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Johnson and Johnson (J&J) have noted the lack of evidence that its HIV drug darunavir has antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

Currently, HIV protease inhibitors are being considered as potential treatments for the new viral infection. J&J says that the use supports limited, unpublished virologic and clinical data in SARS coronavirus patients.

Darunavir is a protease inhibitor marketed by the company’s unit Janssen Pharmaceutical. The drug has approval as a boosting agent for use in combination with other antiretrovirals to treat HIV-1.

Janssen does not have any clinical nor pharmacological evidence allow the inclusion of darunavir / cobicistat in Covid-19 treatment guidelines.

Furthermore, there are no published safety and efficacy data of darunavir / cobicistat in Covid-19 patients.

To date, no in-vitro studies or clinical trials took place to assess the safety and efficacy of darunavir / cobicistat or darunavir / cobicistat / emtricitabine / tenofovir alafenamide for coronavirus treatment.

In a statement, J&J said: “Johnson & Johnson has no evidence that darunavir has any effect against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

“Johnson & Johnson is screening its antiviral compounds, including darunavir, to determine potential in vitro effect against SARS-CoV-2. We are partnering with multiple organisations to support the development of research programmes and fast-track solutions for Covid-19.”

Janssen provided darunavir-based medicines for three clinical studies in China.