What We're Reading: HIV Drug Tested in Treating Coronavirus; Preterm Birth Drug Debate; Trump Threatens Funds to California

January 27, 2020
AJMC Staff

Chinese health authorities are testing an HIV drug, lopinavir and ritonavir, as a potential treatment for the new coronavirus; a debate is growing over the efficacy of the sole drug approved to prevent preterm birth; the Trump administration threatens to withhold Califonia’s federal funding due to its abortion coverage requirements.

Chinese Authorities Test HIV Drug for Treatment of Coronavirus

Doctors Fear Repeal of Preterm Birth Drug Approval

China is undertaking tests on an HIV drug, a combination therapy of lopinavir and ritonavir (Aluvia), to examine its efficacy as a treatment for symptoms of the new coronavirus, according to drugmaker AbbVie. Reuters reports that Chinese health authorities requested the drug to assist with the government’s efforts to address the crisis. Although there is currently no effective antivirus medicine, the Chinese government suggested for people to take 2 lopinavir/ritonavir pills and inhale a dose of nebulized alpha-interferon twice a day, based on guidance published last Thursday.The only drug approved to prevent preterm birth, hydroxyprogesterone caproate (Makena), was suggested to be withdrawn from approval by an expert panel convened by the FDA in October, but conflicting results from 2 clinical trials have sparked a debate on its efficacy within the healthcare community. Kaiser Health News reports that an older trial of American patients at high risk of having a preterm delivery were positively affected by hydroxyprogesterone caproate, whereas a more recent, larger trial of lower-risk international patients suggested that the medication did not work.

California’s Federal Funding Threatened Over Abortion Health Coverage

Last Friday, the Trump administration threatened to cut federal funding from California over its requirement that private insurers cover abortions, according to The Washington Post. Federal health officials said California had 30 days to stop its alleged violation but did not expand on what funds would be withheld or when it would go into effect. They further stated that the announcement serves as a warning to other states with similar requirements.