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Genetic Linkage

Can Existing Drugs Treat COVID-19? From Viagra to Thalidomide to Cough Syrup

As the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to mount, so do entries at clinicaltrials.gov for potential treatments, reaching into the existing pharmacopeia for repurposing candidates.


Clinical trials for COVID-19 treatments range from 10 people to nearly 600, and most are happening in China. But a caveat: ClinicalTrials.gov is a clearinghouse of proposals, not requiring approval. The entries are from all over the world.


Normally – and these are far from normal times – a clinical trial is optimally designed to assess the safety and efficacy of a new treatment on two groups of people, one taking the drug, the other a placebo. Or, in a crossover design, participants take courses of both treatment and placebo at different times but don't know which is when.


The standard, scientific approach to evaluating drugs takes time. Lots of it. And right now, people are hesitant to sign up for a clinical trial knowing that they face a 50:50 chance of being assigned to a placebo group.


To continue reading, go to my DNA Science blog at Public Library of Science. 

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