China testing HIV drug as treatment for new coronavirus, AbbVie says

FILE PHOTO: Aluvia, an antiviral medicine is seen at a clinic pharmacy in Alexander township, South Africa, March 14, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

(Reuters) - China is testing an HIV drug as a treatment for symptoms of the new coronavirus that is rapidly spreading, said drugmaker AbbVie Inc on Sunday.

China health authorities requested the drug to help with the government’s efforts to address the crisis, according to Adelle Infante, a spokeswoman for North Chicago, Illinois-based AbbVie.

Aluvia, which is also known as Kaletra, is a combination of lopinavir and ritonavir.

In guidance published on Thursday, the government said there is no effective anti-virus medicine but suggested taking two lopinavir/ritonavir pills and inhaling a dose of nebulized alpha-interferon twice a day.

Health authorities around the world are racing to prevent a pandemic after more than 2,000 people were infected in China and 56 have died after contracting the virus.

Reporting by Michael Erman in New York and Roxanne Liu in Beijing; Additional reporting by David Henry; Editing by Lisa Shumaker