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'Don’t rush unproven novel COVID-19 therapies'

This is not a time to abandon reason, says expert treating COVID-19 patients in ICU

As hospital staffs mobilize to meet the growing demand of COVID-19 patients, some clinicians are using novel or repurposed therapies in lieu of traditional, evidence-based critical care interventions.

Dr. Benjamin Singer, a Northwestern Medicine pulmonologist and critical care physician who is currently treating COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit (ICU), cautions that this is not a time to abandon reason. 

“The use of off-label and off-study novel or repurposed therapeutics prevents potential benefits or harms from being clearly defined and puts some of our most vulnerable people at risk,” said Singer, also an assistant professor of medicine and biochemistry & molecular genetics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Singer co-authored a recent letter in the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology titled, “A Call for Rational Intensive Care in the Era of COVID-19.”

He wrote in the letter that critical care physicians are trained to care for patients with severe viral pneumonia using evidence-based approaches. Until there are clinical trials that offer clear direction on a different treatment approach, state-of-the-art supportive care is the best option, the letter said.

Listen to a Feinberg podcast with Singer in which he discusses the dangers of unproven COVID-19 therapies. 

Singer is available to speak to media about his reasoning for writing the letter, as well as what Northwestern Medicine physicians are witnessing while treating patients with COVID-19 in the ICU. Reporters and producers should contact Kristin Samuelson at to schedule an interview.