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03-07-2020 | COVID-19 | News

News in brief

Potential for anticancer, COVID-19 drug interactions highlighted

Author: Shreeya Nanda


medwireNews: A French team has drawn attention to the potential for drug–drug interactions between anticancer medications and agents being used or tested for the treatment of COVID-19.

Writing in a letter to the European Journal of Cancer, Paul Gougis (Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris) and colleagues highlight not only the possible effects of immunosuppressive anticancer drugs in patients with COVID-19, but also the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic interactions between nonimmunosuppressive cancer and COVID-19 treatments.

They note that multikinase inhibitors such as sunitinib, PARP inhibitors such as olaparib, and other drug classes have been associated with an increased risk for neutropenia and infections, and thus “it might be unsafe” to use these drugs to treat SARS-CoV-2–positive cancer patients.

The study authors also point out that anticancer and antiviral drugs “have a narrow therapeutic index and can have pharmacological interactions.”

For instance, enzalutamide, an antiandrogen used for the treatment of prostate cancer, and ritonavir, which is being investigated for COVID-19, have opposing effects on CYP3A4 and “could interfere with each other’s metabolism, decrease or increase each other’s clearance and be responsible for severe toxicities or decreased efficacy,” write Gougis et al.

Other anticancer drugs, such as crizotinib, tamoxifen, and abiraterone, are associated with QT interval prolongation, and giving these drugs alongside putative COVID-19 treatments with the same effect, such as hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, “could lead to torsade de pointes and be fatal,” the team cautions.

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare. © 2020 Springer Healthcare part of the Springer Nature Group

3 July 2020: The coronavirus pandemic is affecting all healthcare professionals across the globe. Medicine Matters’ focus, in this difficult time, is the dissemination of the latest data to support you in your research and clinical practice, based on the scientific literature. We will update the information we provide on the site, as the data are published. However, please refer to your own professional and governmental guidelines for the latest guidance in your own country.

Eur J Cancer 2020; 136: 1–3