More Funding Needed for Expansion of Coronavirus Drug Trials

Thursday 26 March 2020

Researchers are set to begin clinical trials of possible treatments for COVID-19 using two existing drugs, but more funds are needed to expand the trial nationally. 

The RBWH Foundation Coronavirus Action Fund has raised funds for the the clinical trials to begin at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, The Royal Melbourne Hospital and The Prince Charles Hospital, however, another 56 hospitals across Australia have expressed interested in taking part in the trials.  

Professor David Paterson, Consultant Infectious Diseases Physician at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) and one of the lead management committee members for the study said, “With a larger trial, we could can get results quicker. We aim to test the treatments on the first wave of patients, with the hope that we can treat the second wave with the drugs.”

One of the drugs to be trialed is HIV medication and the other an anti-malaria drug*. 

“The trial will involve comparing one drug versus the other, versus the combination of the two drugs,” Professor Paterson said. 

Eligible patients will be those admitted to hospital with COVID-19 infection, but not sick enough to require admission to intensive care units. Professor Paterson said the drugs to be used in the clinical trials can be administered orally as tablets. 

“Our aim is to treat patients as soon as they’re admitted to hospital in controlled settings to test if we can prevent them deteriorating and ending up in intensive care units.  We feel this is our most pressing current need so we can potentially prevent what has happened in Italy where intensive care units have been completely overwhelmed by the volume of patients needing this level of care.” 

A study management committee will coordinate the study across Australia and includes Professor David Paterson, Consultant Infectious Diseases Physician at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) and Director of The University of Queensland Centre for Clinical research; Associate Professors Steven Tong and Justin Denholm, Infectious Diseases Physicians from Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Doherty Institute, Melbourne; and Professor Joshua Davis, President of the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases and Infectious Diseases and General Medicine Physician from John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle.  

Key individuals involved in this trial in Brisbane include Dr Andrew Redmond, Infectious Diseases Physician at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH); Dr Andrew Burke, Infectious Diseases and Respiratory Physician, and Dr Alex Chaudhuri, Infectious Diseases Physician, at The Prince Charles Hospital; and Professor Jason Roberts, Consultant Clinical Pharmacist and National Health and Medical Research Council Practitioner Fellow from Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH), as well as the University of Queensland’s Centre for Clinical Research and School of Pharmacy.

To make a donation to the RBWH Foundation Coronavirus Action Fund click here.

*These drugs are not approved for use for the treatment of COVID-19 and people should not take them without advice from a doctor.