As scientists across the globe scramble to find a vaccine or medical cure for the SARS-CoV-2 infection, the Cuban company Medsol is working on replicating an antiretroviral drug known as Kaletra to treat COVID-19 patients.
Medsol is developing a Cuban version of lopinavir + ritonavir, manufactured under the brand name Kaletra, Aluvia and other generics across the globe. The drug has previously demonstrated effectiveness in the treatment of HIV/AIDS.
Doctors are treating severely ill COVID-19 patients with drugs already approved to treat other conditions. At the present time, studies are ongoing with Kaletra to treat SARS-CoV2 because research in 2004 suggested that Kaletra demonstrated beneficial effects in patients infected with an earlier coronavirus known as SARS.
Dr. Adalberto Izquierdo Castro the head of Research and Development at MedSol production at Novatec told the Cuban press that the drug is currently in development and evaluation. He said the next step would be a comparison of Cuba’s own version of Kaletra to the branded one. Once this has happened, the drug would be registered by the Center for State Control of Drugs, Equipment and Medical Devices. After registration, production could begin.
Dr. Izquierdo said, “The tests that are being carried out on the Cuban version of this drug have shown satisfactory results.”
In hospitalized patients with severe Covid-19, no benefit has yet been demonstrated with lopinavir–ritonavir treatment beyond standard care. However, future trials in patients with SARS-CoV-2 may help to confirm or exclude the possibility of a treatment benefit.
Kaletra is used with other drugs for the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS. If Cuba can manufacture this medication, it would eliminate the need to import, lower production costs and open up opportunities to export.
Kaletra is currently produced by the big pharmaceutical companies with advanced technology. Technical adaptations are needed to manufacture the drug in Cuba.
The current treatment protocol for COVID-19 infection on the Island includes recombinant human Interferon Alpha 2b, Oseltamivir, Chloroquine, and various homeopathic preparations for strengthening the immune system.
As at the date of publishing, there is no vaccine or drug successfully identified as a cure-all treatment for COVID-19. Researchers around the world are testing experimental drugs as well as drugs approved for other conditions in the hope that they can help people infected with COVID-19.
Zoe Veraz is a content writer, freelance journalist and regular contributor to the Cuba Business Report.