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  • Writer's pictureChapman Chen

Side Effects of Drugs Currently used to Treat Wuhan Novel Coronavirus (NCP). By Chapman Chen

Updated: Feb 10, 2020

Hong Kong infectious disease doctor Joseph Tsang Kay-yan recently told Appledaily that no treated patients have suffered from avascular necrosis (AVN) 骨枯 like SARS patients in 2003 because they have been treated with ribavirin, interferon and protease inhibitors instead of corticosteroid, which was lavishly employed by Hong Kong and China physicians during the 2003 SARS outbreak. But Dr. Tsang omitted the multiple serious adverse effects of the three drugs concerned, many of which have been warned by FDA. Unfortunately, confirmed NCP patients are not allowed to consult herbalists and/or homeopaths instead of Western-style doctors!

Side Effects of Ribavirin

FDA has clearly indicated that ribavirin is NOT suitable for treating flu.

According to drugs. com, the primary toxicity of Ribavirin is hemolytic anemia, which was observed in approximately 13% of all Ribavirin/peginterferon alfa-2a- treated subjects in clinical trials. Significant teratogenic and/or embryocidal effects have been demonstrated in all animal species exposed to Ribavirin. The percentage of patients in clinical trials who experienced one or more adverse events was 98%. The most commonly reported adverse reactions were psychiatric reactions, including depression, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, and flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, pyrexia, myalgia, headache and rigors. Other common reactions were anorexia, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, arthralgias, injection site reactions, alopecia, and pruritus.

One or more serious adverse reactions occurred in 10% of Chronic hepatitis C (CHC) monoinfected subjects and in 19% of CHC/HIV subjects receiving peginterferon alfa-2a alone or in combination with Ribavirin. The most common serious adverse event (3% in CHC and 5% in CHC/HIV) was bacterial infection.

Other serious adverse reactions occurred at a frequency of less than 1% and included: suicide, psychosis, aggression, anxiety, hepatic dysfunction, fatty liver, cholangitis, arrhythmia, diabetes mellitus, autoimmune phenomena, gastrointestinal bleeding, pancreatitis, colitis, corneal ulcer, pulmonary embolism, coma, myositis, cerebral hemorrhage, hallucination... (1)

Side Effects of Interferon

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given a boxed warning (the most serious warning) about interferon's side effects in terms of autoimmune diseases, mood disorders, increased infections, and stroke.

According to Cancer Research UK, the common side effects of interferon which affect more than 10% of users include depression, anxiety, insomnia, dizziness, loss or thinning of hair, reduced appetite, weight loss, breathlessness, pale skin, exhaustion, flu-like symptoms, stomachache, diarrhea, nausea sore throat, headache, cough, joint and muscle pain, skin rash.... Dyslipidemia develops in up to 70% of patients receiving protease inhibitors; 3.6% developed diabetes mellitus (2)

Some past research has found evidence that interferon might lead to heart damage. One 2004 study looked at the case of a 56-year-old man with normal heart function, who began to experience heart problems, following interferon treatment. Another study, which was done in 2012, looked at the effects of interferon on increasing risk of heart disease in people with lupus. The researchers found that all subjects, regardless of lupus, seemed to have increased signs of potential heart damage from using interferon (3).

Side Effects of Protease Inhibitors

In a clinical study, protease inhibitors were associated with a 2-fold increased risk of Cardiovascular mortality (4). In another study, the incidence of cardiovascular disease was increased by up to 50% by the intake of protease inhibitor (5).

Protease inhibitors have also been associated with a syndrome of fat redistribution, insulin resistance, and hyperlipidemia. It has been estimated that hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridemia occur in greater than 50% of protease inhibitor recipients after 2 years of therapy, and that the risk of developing hyperlipidemia increases with the duration of treatment with protease inhibitors (6).


Pic: Getty Images

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