On Sunday night, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, drugs often used to treat malaria and recently touted by President Donald Trump as a possible “game-changer” in the fight against the China-originated novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.
The United States Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced in a statement on Sunday that the FDA will allow the drugs to be “donated to the Strategic National Stockpile 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,” a Politico report said.
The statement noted that “Sandoz donated 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to the stockpile and Bayer donated 1 million doses of chloroquine.”
Trump made it clear weeks ago that his administration would work to fast-track promising drugs like hydroxychloroquine with the FDA, all in an effort to combat COVID-19.
Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is on the same page as President Trump when it comes to the popular anti-malaria drugs, permitting trials of hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, and azithromycin to commence in his state.
“Let’s see how it works,” Trump said Sunday, with regard to the New York trials. “It may. It may not.”
On the same day as the FDA authorization, Novartis Chief Executive Vas Narasimhan told a Swiss newspaper that hydroxychloroquine is our biggest hope in combating COVID-19.
“Pre-clinical studies in animals as well as the first data from clinical studies show that hydroxychloroquine kills the coronavirus,” Narasimhan told SonntagsZeitung. “We’re working with Swiss hospitals on possible treatment protocols for the clinical use of the drug, but it’s too early to say anything definitively.”
The French government also cleared a larger pathway for the use of chloroquine this weekend, officially sanctioning the drug for certain patients infected with the novel virus, The Daily Wire noted.
“The French government has officially sanctioned prescriptions of chloroquine to treat certain coronavirus patients,” France 24 English reported Saturday.
“This ensures continued treatment of patients who have been treated for several years for a chronic condition with this drug, but also allows a temporary authorization to allow certain patients with coronavirus to benefit from this therapeutic route,” France’s director general of health Jérôme Salomon said.
The move from the French government comes on the heels of infectious disease specialist Didier Raoult announcing new clinical results, which can be accessed here, that show 78 out of 80 patients treated with chloroquine recovered within five days, a report from Trustnodes said.
The five-day recovery time is “considerably” faster “than the usual 14 days and for some it can go up to 28 days if they recover at all,” Trustnodes added.
As highlighted by The Daily Wire, positive results from the drugs have thus far been largely anecdotal:
The Times repeatedly underscores that the treatment has not yet been proven to be effective by officials and highlights “concerns” among health experts about the Trump and Cuomo-promoted medications, which sometimes have dangerous side effects, like “fatal heart arrhythmia and vision loss.” Like The Washington Post’s editorial board, which has accused Trump of causing “damage” by pointing to the treatment as a potential “cure,” the Times suggests Trump, and to a lesser extent Cuomo, may be guilty of “raising false hopes in the American public” and “contribut[ing] to runs on supply and hoarding” of the drugs.