News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Australian Commission on Safety and Quality sets out potential COVID-19 treatments

Health Industry Hub | May 21, 2020 |
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The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has released a document summarising re-purposed medicines being investigated to treat COVID-19.

In Australia, on 30 March 2020 it was announced that the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity at the University of Melbourne received funding to work on the ASCOT trial. Specifically, lopinavir-ritonavir and hydroxychloroquine will be assessed in patients with COVID-19, admitted to hospital but not to an ICU in 60 hospitals across Australia over the next 2 months.

Work is ongoing to fact check and build on the entries for each medicine. To support this work, the Commission will seek expert opinion from within Australia, for example in pharmacology, epidemiology and virology. The Commission is supported by an extensive network of experts and stakeholders, including peak bodies and universities. The Commission expects to consult with these organisations to assist with development of support resources.

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Re-purposed Medicines Being Investigated for COVID-19

Monoclonal antibodies

  1. Tocilizumab (Actemra) – Roche Products, PBS listed
  2. Sarilumab (Kevzara) – Sanofi-Aventis Australia, TGA registered
  3. Meplazumab – Australian sponsor to be determined

Other immunosuppressants

  1. Baricitinib (Olumiant) – Eli Lilly Australia, PBS listed


  1. Lopinavir / ritonavir (Kaletra) – AbbVie, PBS listed
  2. Darunavir / Cobicistat (Prezcobix) – Janssen-Cilag, PBS listed


  1. Remdesivir – Gilead Sciences, not TGA registered
  2. Favipiravir (Avigan) – FUJIFILM Toyama Chemical, not TGA registered
  3. Rintatolimod – AIM ImmunoTech, not TGA registered


  1. Interferon beta-1a (Avonex, Rebif) – Biogen Australia and Merck Healthcare, PBS listed
  2. Interferon alpha-2b – Roche Products, not TGA registered
  3. Interferon alpha-1b – MSD Australia and TEVA Pharmaceuticals Australia, not TGA registered
  4. Pegylated interferon lambda (Lambda) – Eiger BioPharmaceuticals, not TGA registered


  1. Chloroquine (Chlorquin) – Aspen Pharmacare Australia, TGA registered
  2. Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) – Sanofi-Aventis Australia, PBS listed
  3. Mefloquine hydrochloride (Larium) – Pharmaco Australia, TGA registered

Antimicrobials / Antiseptics / Anthelmintics

  1. Azithromycin (Zithromax) – Pfizer Australia, PBS listed
  2. Ciprofloxacin – Bayer Australia, PBS listed
  3. Teicoplanin (Targocid) – Sanofi-Aventis Australia, TGA registered
  4. Povidone-iodine – Sanofi-Aventis Australia, TGA registered
  5. Ivermectin (Stromectol) – MSD Australia, PBS listed
  6. Selamectin – Zoetis Australia, not TGA registered for human use

Peripheral vasodilators

  1. Aviptadil – Biogen Australia, not TGA registered
  2. Sildenafil (Viagra/Revatio) – Pfizer Australia, PBS listed


  1. Convalescent plasma transfusions – from patients who have recovered from viral infections is being investigated for use as a treatment without the occurrence of severe adverse events
  2. Melatonin (Circadin) – RAD Data Australia, TGA registered
  3. Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination (ImmuCyst) – Sanofi-Aventis Australia, TGA registered
  4. Chlorpromazine (Largactil) – Sanofi-Aventis Australia, PBS listed
  5. Tranexamic acid – Pfizer Australia, oral form PBS listed

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