COVID-19 Drug Development: A Therapeutic Prescription Drug Overview

Several existing antiviral medications used for HIV/AIDS, malaria, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) are currently being researched as COVID-19 treatments. Some of them have already been moved to clinical trials for COVID-19 treatment. As stated by the author Charlotte Harrison at Canterbury, UK, “Existing antivirals and knowledge gained from the SARS and MERS outbreaks gain traction as the fastest route to fight the current coronavirus epidemic." Similarly Vincent Munster, Chief of the Viral Ecology Unit at the US National Institute of Health, noted, “The general genomic layout and the general replication kinetics and the biology of the MERS, SARS, and [SARS-CoV-2] viruses are very similar, so testing drugs which target relatively generic parts of these coronaviruses is a logical step.”

During the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO), European Medicines Agency (EMA), US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Chinese government and drug manufacturers have coordinated with academic and industry researchers to speed development of vaccines, antiviral drugs, and post-infection therapies. The International Clinical Trials Registry Platform of the WHO recorded 536 clinical studies to develop post-infection therapies for COVID-19 infections, with numerous established antiviral compounds that treat other infections undergoing clinical research to be repurposed.

For small-molecule drugs such as antivirals, antibiotics, or antiparasitics, the process of drug discovery, synthesis, and production generally involves three stages.

  • The first yields the active ingredient in the drug, leading to discovery and synthesis of the active ingredient.
  • The second modifies the drug to make it stable and readily absorbed by the body.
  • The third involves drug packaging (e.g., into tablets or vials).

Here we present a quick summary of journal articles published by various authors on small-molecule drugs that are being repurposed for COVID-19 treatment in clinical trials around the world. Agilent understands your needs in pharmaceutical discovery, development, manufacturing, and quality control, and we offer seamless, integrated sample-to-data solutions. Let us help you accelerate your pharmaceutical candidates toward approval and into the hands of patients.