Italy warns against misuse of herpes drug against covid

Italy’s drug regulatory agency (Aifa) warned this Friday of the misuse of an unapproved antiviral against covid-19, classifying it as a potential health risk.

The regulatory body said it has been alerted by the Ministry of Health to a high number of import orders for Parvulan, an antiviral used to treat herpes zoster that is not registered in Italy but is approved and legally marketed in Brazil.

Aifa added that requests from customers in Italy showed that Parvulan is being proposed for uses other than its original purpose, as a preventive treatment against covid-19, rather than licensed vaccines.

“The use of the drug Parvulan in the prophylaxis of Sars-Cov-2 infection is not supported by the slightest evidence, from the standpoint of efficacy and safety,” the agency said in a statement, adding that its scientific committee did not even authorize a clinical test.

“The possible use of the drug as a substitute for authorized vaccines, therefore, represents a potential danger to human health,” said Aifa.

The danger was not only due to the lack of safety in its use, but also to the unjustified sense of protection that patients would have with it, given the lack of documented efficacy, the agency added in its statement.