Pharmaceutical company Bayer has responded to the ongoing outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus — formally known as COVID-19 — by donating millions of tablets of an anti-malarial drug that could be used to combat the disease to the United States government.
According to a story published Thursday at MarketWatch:
U.S. listed shares of Bayer AG bayry rose 3% in trading on Thursday afternoon after it said it had donated three million tablets of Resochin, a chloroquine product, to the U.S. The German drugmaker said that it is seeking an emergency use authorization for the drug in the U.S., where it is not approved. Health care providers in countries like China and France have been using chloroquine-based therapies to treat COVID-19 patients as there are no proven treatments for the disease.
At a Thursday press briefing, President Donald Trump said that he had directed the Food and Drug Administration to speed up trials of various drugs — including chloroquine — an action which he said could be a potential "game-changer" in fighting the disease.
"Nothing will stand in our way as we pursue any avenue to find what best works against this horrible virus," Trump said at the White House briefing. "Now, a drug called chloroquine — and some people would add to it 'hydroxy,' Hydroxychloroquine — So Chloroquine or Hydroxychloroquine. Now, this is a common malaria drug. It is also a drug used for strong arthritis ... But it is known as a malaria drug, and it's been around for a long time and it's very powerful."
The president also cautioned, "When you go with a brand-new drug, you don't know that that's going to happen" but that the anti-malarial has shown "very, very encouraging early results. And we're going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately."
FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn explained that while chloroquine has been approved to treat other conditions, the agency wants to get more information about its efficacy against the coronavirus.
For now, "we're looking at drugs that are already approved for other indications; so they're already approved, as the President said, for other diseases," Hahn explained at the briefing.
"As an example, many Americans have read studies and heard media reports about this drug, chloroquine, which is an anti-malarial drug," Hahn explained. "It's already approved — as the President said — for the treatment of malaria, as well as an arthritis condition" but officials wants to get more information in the form of "a large, pragmatic clinical trial."
According to numbers aggregated by Johns Hopkins University, the United States has over 14,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Friday morning and has seen over 205 resulting deaths. The same data show that there are 246,000 confirmed cases of the virus globally.