March 19, the US President Donald Trump along with Vice President Mike Pence and other members of White House Coronavirus Task Force held a briefing on efforts taken to fight the new coronavirus. He made a quite important statement regarding new methods of COVID-2019 treatment.
The President said, in particular: ‘it is shown very encouraging — very, very encouraging early results’, ‘for me it is even more important than a vaccine’. He claimed that this is ‘beyond right to try’, as trying to use some medicines may save people’s lives. They tested several drugs and examined foreign markets, and the President revealed the most effective solution at the moment.
Trump claimed that the US Food and Drug Administration (the FDA) approved Chloroquine & Hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus. This is a common malaria drug, and it is also used to treat strong arthritis. ‘I think it’s gonna be great’, Trump added.
In a post-briefing statement FDA claimed that the medication had not been approved as a ‘treatment method’ for COVID-2019 disease, they only gave the green light to its additional testing in large-scale clinical studies. That’s not surprising, as it usually takes a long time for the FDA to approve any medication for treatment of any disease due to procedural things, as many experiments should be performed.
So chloroquine will be subject to extra clinical studies which will be focused on efficiency and safety issues.
However, representatives of this authority confirmed that the medication showed effectiveness in reducing symptoms of the disease and preventing its spread (due to hindering viral shedding). At the moment, it has only official approval for malaria prevention and other purposes, however, healthcare professionals are allowed to prescribe it off-label to patients suffering from the coronavirus.
In addition, several days ago, Deutsch pharmaceutical giant Bayer announced the donation of 3 million chloroquine tablets to the United States government. Germany can afford that, considering a large-scale testing for COVID inside this country, and the lowest mortality rate from the novel coronavirus in the world (in comparison with other affected countries).
What does this actually mean? This means that patients can use this drug off-label as a method of coronavirus treatment and, probably, prevention. And this is one of the most tested medication at the moment, amid tight deadlines.
Dr. Douglas Goldberg, MD is a Cardiology Specialist in Mineola, NY. He is affiliated with medical facilities Nyu Winthrop Hospital and Mercy Medical Center.