Introduction: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has developed since December 2019. It has caused a global pandemic with more than three hundred thousand case fatalities. However, apart from supportive care by respirators, no standard medical therapy is validated. Areas covered: This paper presents old drugs with potential in vitro efficacy against SARS-CoV-2. The in vitro database, adverse effects, and potential toxicities of these drugs are reviewed regarding their feasibility of clinical prescription for the treatment of patients with COVID-19. To obtain convincing recommendations, we referred to opinions from the US National Institute of Health regarding drugs repurposed for COVID-19 therapy. Expert opinion: Although strong evidence of well-designed randomized controlled studies regarding COVID-19 therapy is presently lacking, remdesivir, teicoplanin, hydroxychloroquine (not in combination with azithromycin), and ivermectin might be effective antiviral drugs and are deemed promising candidates for controlling SARS-CoV-2. In addition, tocilizumab might be considered as the supplementary treatment for COVID-19 patients with cytokine release syndrome. In future, clinical trials regarding a combination of potentially effective drugs against SARS-CoV-2 need to be conducted to establish the optimal regimen for the treatment of patients with moderate-to-severe COVID-19.
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