eCite Digital Repository

Emetine, ipecac, ipecac alkaloids and analogues as potential antiviral agents for coronaviruses


Bleasel, MD and Peterson, GM, Emetine, ipecac, ipecac alkaloids and analogues as potential antiviral agents for coronaviruses, Pharmaceuticals, 13, (3) pp. 1-9. ISSN 1424-8247 (2020) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.3390/ph13030051


The COVID-19 coronavirus is currently spreading around the globe with limited treatment options available. This article presents the rationale for potentially using old drugs (emetine, other ipecac alkaloids or analogues) that have been used to treat amoebiasis in the treatment of COVID-19. Emetine had amongst the lowest reported half-maximal effective concentration (EC50) from over 290 agents screened for the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronaviruses. While EC50 concentrations of emetine are achievable in the blood, studies show that concentrations of emetine can be almost 300 times higher in the lungs. Furthermore, based on the relative EC50s of emetine towards the coronaviruses compared with Entamoeba histolytica, emetine could be much more effective as an anti-coronavirus agent than it is against amoebiasis. This paper also discusses the known side effects of emetine and related compounds, how those side effects can be managed, and the optimal method of administration for the potential treatment of COVID-19. Given the serious and immediate threat that the COVID-19 coronavirus poses, our long history with emetine and the likely ability of emetine to reach therapeutic concentrations within the lungs, ipecac, emetine, and other analogues should be considered as potential treatment options, especially if in vitro studies confirm viral sensitivity.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:COVID-19, coronavirus, emetine, ipecac, dehydroemetine, MERS, SARS, treatment, repurposing: antiviral
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences
Research Field:Basic pharmacology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical health
Objective Field:Clinical health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Bleasel, MD (Dr Martin Bleasel)
UTAS Author:Peterson, GM (Professor Gregory Peterson)
ID Code:138048
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:34
Deposited By:Pharmacy
Deposited On:2020-03-22
Last Modified:2022-08-26
Downloads:20 View Download Statistics

Repository Staff Only: item control page