Intense effort is underway to evaluate potential therapeutic agents for
the treatment of COVID-19. In order to respond quickly to the crisis,
the repurposing of existing drugs is the primary pharmacological
strategy. Despite the urgent clinical need for these therapies, it is
imperative to consider potential safety issues. This is important due to
the harm-benefit ratios that may be encountered when treating COVID-19,
which can depend on the stage of the disease, when therapy is
administered and underlying clinical factors in individual patients.
Treatments are currently being trialled for a range of scenarios from
prophylaxis (where benefit must greatly exceed risk) to severe
life-threatening disease (where a degree of potential risk may be
tolerated if it is exceeded by the potential benefit). In this
perspective, we have reviewed some of the most widely-researched
repurposed agents in order to identify potential safety considerations
using existing information in the context of COVID-19.