SARS Treatments Didn't Work: Study

In fact, some may even have made patients worse, researchers say

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TUESDAY, Sept. 12, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- There is no evidence that any of the treatments used to fight the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus were effective, according to a review in the journal PLoS Medicine.

In 2003, SARS cases numbered over 8,000, including 774 deaths worldwide. The virus is spread by coughing or sneezing, and its main symptoms are pneumonia and fever.

Following the outbreak, the World Health Organization established an International SARS Treatment Study Group, which recommended a review of SARS treatments, with a particular focus on certain antiviral drugs (ribavirin, lopinavir, and ritonavir), steroids, and proteins called immunoglobulins, which occur naturally in human blood.

The review of more than 70 studies found that some of the antiviral drugs reduced the reproduction rates of the SARS virus, but most of the studies of antiviral drugs were inconclusive. Most of the studies of steroid treatment -- used in an attempt to reduce lung inflammation -- were inconclusive, and some concluded that it caused possible harm to patients.

From these studies, it's not possible to determine whether any of the treatments used against SARS are effective, the review authors wrote.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about SARS.

SOURCE: PLoS Medicine, news release, Sept. 11, 2006

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