Placental transfer and safety in pregnancy of medications under investigation to treat coronavirus disease 2019.


Objective: Treatment of coronavirus disease 2019 is mostly symptomatic, but a wide range of medications are under investigation against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Although pregnant women are excluded from clinical trials, they will inevitably receive therapies whenever they seem effective in nonpregnant patients and even under compassionate use.

Methods: We conducted a review of the literature on placental transfer and pregnancy safety data of drugs under current investigation for coronavirus disease 2019.

Results: Regarding remdesivir, there are no data in pregnant women. Several other candidates already have safety data in pregnant women, because they are repurposed drugs already used for their established indications. Thus, they may be used in pregnancy, although their safety in the context of coronavirus disease 2019 may differ from conventional use. These include HIV protease inhibitors such as lopinavir/ritonavir that have low placental transfer, interferon that does not cross the placental barrier, and hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine that has high placental transfer. There are also pregnancy safety and placental transfer data for colchicine, steroids, oseltamivir, azithromycin, and some monoclonal antibodies. However, some drugs are strictly prohibited in pregnancy because of known teratogenicity (thalidomide) or fetal toxicities (renin-angiotensin system blockers). Other candidates including tocilizumab, other interleukin 6 inhibitors, umifenovir, and favipiravir have insufficient data on pregnancy outcomes.

Conclusion: In life-threatening cases of coronavirus disease 2019, the potential risks of therapy to the fetus may be more than offset by the benefit of curing the mother. Although preclinical and placental transfer studies are required for a number of potential anti-severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 drugs, several medications can already be used in pregnant women.