US gives anti-malaria drugs approval for limited, emergency COVID-19 treatment

  • News Desk,
    Published: 2020-03-30 22:27:21 BdST

FILE PHOTO: Researches at the University of Minnesota Genomics Center set up an automated liquid handler as researchers begin a trial to see whether malaria treatment hydroxychloroquine can prevent or reduce the severity of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota, US March 19, 2020. Reuters

The US authorities have given anti-malaria drugs a limited approval for treatment of coronavirus infection. 

The Food and Drug Administration issued the emergency-use authorisation for two antimalarial drugs to treat the COVID-19 patients as the country, like most others, is struggling to fight with the pandemic. 

The US Department of Health and Human Services announced it had received 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate and one million doses of hloroquine phosphate donated to a national stockpile of potentially life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, ABC News reported citing a statement released on Sunday.

Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, which are oral prescription drugs used primarily to prevent and treat malaria, are both being investigated as potential therapeutics for COVID-19, according to the report.

The statement also noted that the FDA had permitted limited emergency-use of both donated drugs "to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible", it added.

Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung reported on Sunday that Novartis Chief Executive Vas Narasimhan said his Sandoz generics unit's malaria, lupus and arthritis drug hydroxychloroquine is the company's biggest hope against the coronavirus.

Novartis has pledged to donate 130 million doses and is supporting clinical trials needed before the medicine, which US President Donald Trump also has been promoting, can be approved for use against the coronavirus, according to Reuters.

Other companies including Bayer and Teva have also agreed to donate hydroxychloroquine or similar drugs, while Gilead Sciences is testing its experimental drug remdesivir against coronavirus, Reuters reported.