Press Release

Institut Pasteur Korea confirmed antiviral efficacy of “Alvesco”, a medicine for asthma, against SARS-CoV-2

Institut Pasteur Korea confirmed antiviral efficacy of “Alvesco”, a medicine for asthma, against SARS-CoV-2
- The antiviral efficacy of Alvesco was identified comparable or superior to those of remdesivir, lopinavir, and chloroquine for which clinical studies are underway -

March 24, 2020, Pangyo – Institut Pasteur Korea reported that ciclesonide, a component of “Alvesco”(a drug for asthma), showed excellent efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 in “Drug Repositioning” research.

In the research, approximately 3,000 drugs, including 1,500 US FDA approved drugs, were tested in in-vitro cell culture with an aim of identifying the drugs that are effective for COVID-19 treatment. The study was conducted as part of National Life and Safety Emergency Response Research funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT).

Since February, the Institute has been conducting a study, so-called “Drug Repositioning”, by screening the in-house chemical library consisting of drugs that have already been licensed or currently in clinical development to find the drugs that can be used for the treatment of COVID-19 without going through lengthy clinical trials.

First, the Institute conducted preliminary experiments using SARS-CoV, which is similar to the SARS-CoV-2. After receiving SARS-CoV-2(NCCP No. 43326) from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), researchers searched for the drugs with antiviral activity against the SARS-CoV-2. As a result, about 20 drugs including ciclesonide were discovered to exhibit antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2.

According to the research results, the identified compounds have shown similar or superior antiviral activity in cell culture experiments compared to the remdesivir, lopinavir, and chloroquine, which are currently in clinical trials at home and abroad.

In particular, ciclesonide was nominated as the most feasible drug after a comprehensive review of safety, drug efficacy, related overseas cases, and domestic availability.

The results of the study were posted* on 'bioRxiv', a preprint server, on March 21.
 * Identification of antiviral drug candidates against SARS-CoV-2 from FDA-approved drugs (

Dr. Wang-Shick Ryu, the CEO of Institut Pasteur Korea, said, “The antiviral activity of the drugs was confirmed only in the in-vitro cell culture experiments, and hopefully they could be useful for the treatment of patients after the efficacy of the drugs are also confirmed in clinical tests.” "We will continue the 'Drug Repositioning' campaign to discover additional drugs which can be more effective for COVID-19 treatment" he added.