Prescription Drugs Being Tested to Treat Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

March 21, 2020


Researchers and doctors are working to find an effective treatment for the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19. The latest studies have been looking at several existing prescription drugs as a potential treatment. Many of these drugs are affordable and easily accessible.  

It’s important to note that none of these medications have been approved for treatment of COVID-19, and the results of these existing studies are inconclusive. Furthermore, it is imperative to understand that such medications, when used without a prescription and supervision of a healthcare provider, can cause serious health consequences, including death.

Nevertheless, although the study results presented here are for informational purposes only – there is still no cure for COVID-19 – they present opportunity for new (and relatively rapid) avenues of exploration as pharmaceutical companies across the globe pour resources into finding effective treatments for patients showing symptoms of this pandemic.


Hydroxychloroquine is currently used to treat and prevent malaria. Recently, French researchers used this drug in a trial of 24 patients. The study found that 90% of the patients who were given a placebo still carried the virus after six days, while only 25% of patients that took hydroxychloroquine still carried the disease.

In the United States, the University of Minnesota started a hydroxychloroquine trial with 1,500 people. The trial is studying whether the drug can be used for prevention or to reduce severity of symptoms.


Like hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine is used to treat malaria. It is also prescribed for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Clinical trials conducted in China indicate that Chloroquine may be effective and safe for treating COVID-19 associated pneumonia, but this has not been confirmed.

Expanded Access to Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine in the U.S.

President Trump has announced that both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine will be available by prescription “almost immediately.” Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn clarified that the drugs would be available for compassionate use only, which is different from FDA approval.

Compassionate use is mainly for terminally ill patients. However, Hahn said that the FDA would gather data from compassionate use of these drugs to see if they could be an effective treatment for COVID-19.

Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned against using chloroquine phosphate to treat coronavirus in official guidance, after the agency learned that the substance killed one person and left another critically ill. CDC said, “Clinicians and public health officials should discourage the public from misusing non-pharmaceutical chloroquine phosphate (a chemical used in home aquariums).”

Have you been prescribed Hydroxychloroquine or Chloroquine?


Patients in a trial at Jin Yin-Tan Hospital, Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, were given either standard care for COVID-19, or standard care plus the drug lopinavir–ritonavir. Pharmaceutical manufacturer AbbVie donated the medication (which they manufacture under the brand Kaletra). 

The results indicated no benefits to using lopinavir–ritonavir. However, some researchers believe that lopinavir–ritonavir could be more effective if administered earlier on; the participants in the trial had already been symptomatic for two weeks.


The National Institutes of Health reported that the antiviral remdesivir is being used in a trial of adults hospitalized for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) in Omaha. It is still too early to tell what, if any, results will come from this trial.

 Related: Getting Your Prescriptions While in COVID-19 Isolation 


The University of Minnesota also started a trial of a hypertension drug called losartan to see if it can help prevent organ failure in COVID-19 patients. They are also testing whether it can prevent patients from needing to be hospitalized.

Researchers have looked at losartan because it is an angiotensin receptor 1 (AT1R) blocker. This could potentially block an enzyme COVID-19 uses to bind to cells. 

While there is still no cure or vaccine for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), researchers are working diligently to find a safe, effective treatment. Some of these common prescription medications showed promising potential in clinical trials and studies. Though the results are not conclusive, they give hope that there will soon be a commonly available treatment for COVID-19 (although it is imperative that individuals do not attempt to self-medicate with these, or any other, prescription medications. Rather, all Rx drugs should only ever be taken after consultation with, and following guidance from, a licensed doctor and pharmacist).

Related: What to Know About Coronavirus

ScriptSave WellRx Response to COVID-19

At ScriptSave WellRx, we are committed to helping people access their medications, regardless of insurance coverage. We provide prescription discounts at tens-of-thousands of pharmacies across the United States, and we will continue to do so in the midst of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Patients with or without insurance can read detailed information about the various medications they or their loved ones are prescribed (including details about adverse interactions with other medications and/or lifestyle interactions), without cost or obligation, by visiting the website or mobile app. Furthermore, while using our free tools, all patients can also get an instant second opinion on their out-of-pocket prescription costs, without obligation.

While no medicine has yet been approved as a treatment for COVID-19 at the time of writing this article, staying healthy and keeping your immune system in top shape are important during stressful times. The free Grocery Guidance module within the ScriptSave WellRx mobile app can help.

ScriptSave WellRx Grocery Guidance

Designed to automatically translate the information contained in the nutritional facts panel of most food labels, patients who use ScriptSave WellRx Grocery Guidance can get an immediate assessment of how well their preferred food products align with their desired health outcomes.

The technology in the ScriptSave WellRx mobile app uses peer-reviewed nutritional research and clinical data to connect health conditions (and related nutritional guidelines) to the nutritional product attributes of hundreds-of-thousands of grocery items on sale across the U.S. By doing so, this sophisticated nutrition and wellness tool can help take the guesswork out of reviewing a food label for patients who need to translate the label-data to their own personal health condition.

The mobile app presents users with an easy-to-interpret ‘Food Index’ that shows how well each product aligns with personal nutritional goals, as well as presenting alternative food suggestions for consideration, under a ‘Better-For-You’ heading.

In short, ScriptSave WellRx Grocery Guidance provides universal access to a highly advanced (but simple-to-use) tool that allows any grocery shopper the ability to interpret a standardized food label in a personalized way – instantly.

This puts ScriptSave WellRx in a unique position to provide help to those wanting to get on a path to healthier eating and grocery choices, at a time when staying healthy and keeping the immune system in top shape are more important than ever.


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