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Anti-inflammatory Drugs May Help Treat COVID-19

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Published on July 15, 2020

Anti-inflammatory Drugs May Help Treat COVID-19

Dr. Paul Richardson explains the role that anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic therapies are playing in the treatment of Covid-19.

Full Description: Dr. Paul Richardson from Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and Patient Power co-founder, Andrew Schorr discuss the promising news out of the UK regarding the use of dexamethosone in the treatment of COVID-19.

Dr. Richardson explains that several medications, both anti-inflammatories and antithrombotics are being used to control the worst consequences of COVID-19. In addition to dexamethasone, both selinexor and ibrutinib are showing promise in treating COVID-19 while a vaccine is still being developed.

Prevention still remains the safest option and Dr. Richardson continues to urge patients to physically distance, wear masks and wash hands often.

Disclaimer: If you have access to any of these drugs for another purpose, please do not use them for the treatment of COVID-19 without the supervision of a doctor.

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Transcript | Anti-inflammatory Drugs May Help Treat COVID-19

Andrew Schorr:
Dr. Richardson, there has been in the news out of the UK, the use of dexamethasone (Decadron), which is well-known in myeloma to help maybe some percentage of the sickest people with COVID-19 and here in the U.S. There's been a question saying, "Well, we want to see the data." So where do you stand? What's your perspective on this?

Dr. Richardson:
Well, I think very quickly, clearly the role of anti-inflammatories in controlling the worst consequences of COVID-19, I think the science behind them is very strong. And I think the data from the United Kingdom supports that notion with something we as myeloma specialists and our patients are very familiar with, which is simple dexamethasone. I think that it reinforces a point seen with other drugs, such as tocilizumab (Actemra), which targets inflammation, that the inflammatory response is a key target for improving outcome in patients infected by SARS-CoV-2. And it's obvious disease entity, so called COVID-19.

Now I think very importantly, there are other strategies going forward and speaking in myeloma, for example, we're repurposing to address this challenge in a variety of ways. But most importantly, and amazingly in myeloma, we're seeing that some of our drugs, one in particular selinexor (Xpovio) is starting to show promise in the approach and the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and importantly as well, BTK inhibition best exemplified by ibrutinib (Imbruvica).

 It is doing the same thing in addition to established treatments, like remdesivir (Veklury) now, tocilizumab, other important and antiviral strategies which are critical. We're now seeing the integration of things like convalescent serum. And now of course, vaccinations is the holy grail, but also interestingly and very relevant to our myeloma patients is the use of anti-thrombotics because the thrombotic component of this disease appears to be very important. That appears to drive substantially potential morbidity and mortality.

There a variety of new treatments we're developing as well to go in the direction of targeting the consequences of the uncontrolled inflammatory response on the vasculature, which can be particularly important in this disease. So for myeloma patients, this story is really important and very, very interesting.

Andrew Schorr:
Okay. So as I understand, so while dexamethasone and its use for the sickest COVID patients has made news, it sounds like there are a lot of other options being explored.

Dr. Richardson:
Absolutely. I mean the critical point is that there are two ways to think about COVID-19, in my opinion. Prevention which obviously is all about vaccination, social distancing, and all the things that we've all become far too familiar with in the last six months. And then the other aspect of it is therapy. When the disease does take hold, how do you best treat it? Dexamethasone has, in my opinion, one string to the bow. The important thing is there are numerous other strings to the bow as well.

I think most importantly, the antivirals and then agents that are targeting the consequences of the coronavirus. These include not only uncontrolled infection, but very importantly, the vasculopathy of this disease which appears to be really particularly dangerous. There are a whole host of things that are being deployed in the space and with great promise so far in a number of different directions.

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