J&J Cites Lack of Evidence for HIV Treatment Against COVID-19

Lack of evidence to support use of darunavir-based treatments for SARS-CoV-2.

  • Anecdotal, unsubstantiated reports claim that darunavir has antiviral effect against COVID-19
  • Johnson & Johnson has no evidence that darunavir has any effect against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19
  • Johnson & Johnson is screening its antiviral compounds, including darunavir, to determine potential in vitro effect against SARS-CoV-2
  • We are partnering with multiple organizations to support the development of research programs and fast-track solutions for COVID-19

Considering the large public health and humanitarian implications, we are committed to global efforts to care for those affected, contain the current outbreak and develop measures to tackle future outbreaks.

We support broad access to information, and we strongly believe that the development of evidence-based intervention guidelines for COVID-19 is critical. HIV protease inhibitors are being considered as therapeutic options for COVID-19. We believe this use is based on limited, unpublished virologic and clinical data in the treatment of patients infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus.

Our first commitment is to the HIV patients who rely on darunavir. Darunavir (DRV) is a protease inhibitor marketed by Janssen. It is currently only approved for use with a “boosting” agent, and in combination use with other antiretrovirals, for the treatment of HIV-1. Of note, DRV should not be administered without a boosting agent (ritonavir or cobicistat) as previous studies of unboosted DRV resulted in subtherapeutic drug levels and was associated with a higher rate of adverse events.


  • Janssen has no clinical nor pharmacological evidence to support the inclusion of DRV/cobicistat in treatment guidelines for COVID-19, nor are there published data on the safety and efficacy profile of DRV/cobicistat in treatment of COVID-19.
  • There are no published clinical studies that have evaluated the efficacy and safety of DRV, DRV/cobicistat or DRV/cobicistat/emtricitabine/tenofovir alafenamide for the treatment of novel coronavirus.
  • In addition, there are no published in-vitro studies with DRV and coronavirus. Based on preliminary, unpublished results from a previously reported in-vitro experiment, it is not likely DRV will have significant activity against SARS-CoV-2 when administered at the approved safe and efficacious dose for the treatment of HIV-1 infection.*
  • Additionally, structural analyses show very few interactions of DRV with the active site of the SARS-CoV-2 protease.*

We remain open to collaborating with governments, healthcare professionals and others to ensure rigorous collection and transparent of data that will allow evidence generation to guide the use of effective medicines and support the best outcomes for patients affected by COVID-19.

Many Janssen compounds, including darunavir, are in the process of being evaluated in-vitro for potential antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2. Janssen has also provided DVR-based medicines to support three clinical studies in China. As soon as these data become available, we will update this information.

There is no higher priority than patient health for Johnson & Johnson. Since January, we have been deeply engaged in a multipronged response to the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak.

Janssen is leading collaborative efforts to screen compounds in discovery and development within our organization and across the broader pharmaceutical industry to accelerate the development of therapies. We have also initiated a high priority project to develop a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate leveraging our AdVac and PER.C6 technologies.

We are partnering with multiple organizations to support the development of collaborative research programs and fast-track the development solutions for COVID-19.

*Janssen Medical Information Factsheet

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Johnson & Johnson

At Johnson & Johnson, we believe good health is the foundation of vibrant lives, thriving communities and forward progress. That’s why for more than 130 years, we have aimed to keep people well at every age and every stage of life. Today, as the world’s largest and most broadly based healthcare company, we are committed to using our reach and size for good. We strive to improve access and affordability, create healthier communities, and put a healthy mind, body and environment within reach of everyone, everywhere.