Severe acute respiratory syndrome: scientific and anecdotal evidence for drug treatment.Curr Opin Investig Drugs. 2004 Feb; 5(2):179-85.CO
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), caused by a highly infectious novel coronavirus (CoV), predominantly presents with severe pneumonitis leading to respiratory failure and death in approximately 10% of victims. Most cases present, after an incubation of 2 to 11 days, with fever and chills, which are followed by dry cough and dyspnea before the onset of respiratory failure. The management of SARS is controversial, largely due to the lack of data from controlled trials, which were logistically impossible to design or execute at the time of the overwhelming outbreak between March and June 2003. The use of an antiviral is logical although there is no effective agent against SARS-CoV, with the widespread use of ribavirin in 2003 attracting considerable scepticism. The use of ribavirin as a monotherapy in SARS is not recommended. Retrospective data suggest that administration of the anti-HIV drug Kaletra in combination with ribavirin could reduce mortality and incidence of respiratory failure. The use of corticosteroid was based on the similarity between SARS and bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia. Corticosteroid use is considered important in subsets of patients with SARS. As SARS may still resurge, it is imperative that past experience is analyzed. This review will attempt to address the rationale for pharmacotherapy in SARS using anecdotal and the limited published data.