COVID-19 is a complex disease and many difficulties are faced today especially in the proper choice of pharmacological treatments. The role of antiviral agents for COVID-19 is still being investigated. The evidence for immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory drugs is quite conflicting, while the use of corticosteroids is supported by robust evidence. The use of heparins in hospitalized critically ill patients is preferred over other anticoagulants. Lastly, conflicting data were found regarding to the use of convalescent plasma and vitamin D. According to data shared by the WHO, many vaccines are under phase 3 clinical trials and some of them already received the marketing approval in EU countries and in the US. In conclusion, drugs repurposing has represented the main approach recently used in the treatment of patients with COVID-19. At this moment, the analysis of efficacy and safety data of drugs and vaccines used in real life context is strongly needed.
Starting from December 2019 the novel SARS-Cov-2 has spread all over the world, being recognized as the causing agent of COVID-19. Since nowadays no specific drug therapies neither vaccines are available for the treatment of COVID-19, drug repositioning may offer a strategy to efficiently control the clinical course of the disease and the spread of the outbreak. In this paper we aim to describe the main pharmacological properties, including data on mechanism of action, safety concerns and drug-drug interactions, of drugs currently administered in patients with COVID-19, focusing on antivirals and drugs with immune-modulatory and/or anti-inflammatory properties. Where available, data from clinical trials involving patients with COVID-19 were reported. A large number of clinical studies have been registered worldwide and several drugs were repurposed to face the new health emergency of COVID-19. For many of these drugs, including lopinavir/ritonavir, remdesivir, favipiravir, chloroquine and tocilizumab, clinical evidence from literature and real life settings support their favorable efficacy and safety profile in improving patients’ clinical conditions. Even though drug repurposing is necessary, it requires caution. Indeed, too many drugs that are currently tested in patients with COVID-19 have peculiar safety profiles. While waiting for the results of clinical studies demonstrating the efficacy of drugs able to reduce symptoms and complications of COVID-19, the best therapeutic path to pursue is the development of an effective vaccine able to prevent this infection.