UPDATED: Which old drugs are in trials for new COVID-19 use? Here's a rundown

Test tube testing image
Drugmakers have put forward 14 repurposed meds as possible COVID-19 therapeutics. (Pixabay)

As the race for a COVID-19 therapeutic has revved up to fever pitch, drugmakers have frantically scoured their existing drug portfolios for possibilities. And they've found more than a few.

By now, most of the world's largest pharmas have dedicated one drug or several to the fight against COVID-19, with branded and generic meds getting their shots. As of early May, dozens of candidates have been put forward, with some of the earliest entries already pumping out early clinical data. 

With new drugs joining the list every day, we've compiled a list of the repurposed drugs to watch in the coming months. Scroll down for a table with details on each one.

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As April waned, Amgen announced it would take PDE4-inhibitor Otezla, which it picked up from Celgene last year, into a clinical trial soon to study its effectiveness in preventing respiratory distress from COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Novartis plans to evaluate IL-1beta blocker Ilaris to treat cytokine storm, a severe overimmune reaction that can be fatal. Investigators will primarily focus on whether Ilaris can keep patients off ventilators. Top-line results are expected late summer.

Novartis is also evaluating IL-17A inhibitor Cosentyx, leukemia drug Gleevec, old heart drug Diovan (valsartan) and asthma therapy Xolair for their effects on COVID-19. 

Meanwhile, the Swiss drugmaker and its partner Incyte have commenced a study for JAK inhibitor Jakafi to treat cytokine storm. The blinded, double-arm study will test Jakafi alongside standard-of-care therapy in COVID-19 patients with pneumonia.

Eli Lilly took rheumatoid arthritis med Olumiant into clinical trials as well, announcing in mid-April it would launch a U.S. trial immediately and later expand testing to Europe and Asia. The project started in February when Benevolent AI identified the Lilly drug as a possible treatment, not only for its anti-inflammatory effects, but also potential antiviral activity. 

AstraZeneca rolled out a test of blood cancer med Calquence in mid-April, after NIH researchers observed “some clinical benefit” in COVID-19. But most recently, AZ said it would launch a trial for diabetes superstar Farxiga. The Dare-19 trial will study Farxiga alongside supportive care, focusing on its potential for reducing the progression of COVID-19 symptoms and cutting the risk of clinical complications and death.

After initially planning to evaluate blockbuster Soliris' effect on COVID-19, Alexion pivoted last month and said it would put follow-up drug Ultomiris into a phase 3 clinical trial instead. Alexion cited preclinical data showing the drug's mechanism could lower cytokine and chemokine levels, plus reduce lung inflammation. 

Finally, a suite of IL-6 inhibitors have been pitted against COVID-19, including Sanofi and Regeneron's Kevzara, Roche's Actemra and EUSA Pharma's Sylvant.

And some early results are in: In late April, Sanofi and Regeneron cut severely ill patients from the phase 3 U.S. trial of Kevzara after a precursor study showed negligible results in treating those patients requiring oxygen therapy, but not more intensive treatment. It'll focus on critically ill patients instead.

Roche's Actemra, meanwhile, posted an early trial win late last month in a small-scale French study, showing it could help combat cytokine storm in severe and critically ill COVID-19 patients with pneumonia. 

A number of big-time generics players––including Bayer, Mylan and Novartis––have donated millions of doses of antimalarial hydroxychloroquine to hospitals and clinical trials despite some iffy evidence on its use to treat COVID-19. A favorite of President Donald J. Trump, hydroxychloroquine recently flopped a VA study in late April and has been treated with caution by global health authorities. 

The detailed list of existing drugs in testing follows.

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