Avera Medical Minute: Hydroxychloroquine, Remdesivir trials underway for COVID-19

In tonight's Avera Medical Minute a closer look at two medications that may show promise in the fight against COVID-19: Hydroxychloroquine and Remdesivir. What are these medicines used for now and could they hold the key to solving this Coronavirus problem? We talked with Assistant Vice President of Hospital Pharmacy for Avera Health Tom Johnson about this and whether there are any homemade remedies that can help protect you from COVID-19.

A second person has tested positive for COVID-19 at Shearer's Foods in Burlington according to company officials. (MGN Image)

Tom Johnson: There's a potential mechanism for Hydroxychloroquine. Right now there are at least 10 trials registered on "clinical trials dot gov" for treatment and there are 11 trials registered for Hydroxychloroquine for prevention. They think that the mechanism is that it keeps the virus from getting into cells quite as quickly and they also think that some of the anti-inflammatory properties of Hydroxychloroquine might be helpful. Remdesivir interferes with the replication of the virus. So if you think about how COVID works it grabs onto your cells, it inserts its RNA into the cell, the cell then...your own cell....replicates the virus and then the virus sheds back out in multiple copies.

Brian Allen: So is it fair to say that these medications hold some promise but we don't know yet? That's why the studies are in play, right?

Tom Johnson: Correct and I think that "promise" is the word Dr. Fauci used within the last week or so regarding Remdesivir is that initial data looks pretty good. But we're not to a point where we know for sure or that we have very reasonable ability to use this in broad populations yet. Really either one of those drugs.

Brian Allen: Is there any reason locally, Tom, for anyone to have any concerns about availability of medications or medical supplies? Are we have any issues with that here at home?

Tom Johnson: Well drug shortages are actually a significant issue and have been for 20 years. Probably the biggest issue with medication shortages is if everybody wants the same drug all at once particularly when some of these new products show some potential benefit then the whole world wants them. We just don't have the supply chain for that. That's really been our primary concern and wanting to make sure we are studying these drugs and understand their use. So that any drug that might be used can be A) available for its primary use and B) potentially be used in the right patient that may have COVID or another disease.

Brian Allen: Is there any type of homemade remedy for this?

Tom Johnson: No there really isn't. There are a handful of cures. As you know Coronavirus is somewhat related to some of the viruses that cause the common cold although this one is certainly more severe for a lot of people. But we haven't proven that any of those remedies really work and no I wouldn't recommend peppers or alcohol.