The US is fast-tracking the anti-malarial drug chloroquine for use as a treatment against the new coronavirus, President Donald Trump said Thursday.
“We’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately, and that’s where the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has been so great,” Trump told reporters.
“They’ve gone through the approval process — it’s been approved. They took it down from many, many months to immediate. So we’re going to be able to make that drug available by prescription.”
- The drug will be used in a clinical trial, according to FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, who spoke during the press briefing.
- Trump also said that other antiviral medications will be fast-tracked for FDA approval.
- “We will collect that data and make the absolute right decisions based upon those data about the safety and efficacy of the treatments,” said Hahn.
- Trump also claimed that the White House has “slashed red tape” to speed up approval for vaccines and other treatments.
- Trump added that the FDA approved “compassionate use” for a number of patients, which allows very ill patients to use drugs not yet approved by the agency for widespread use.
Crucial quote: “What’s also important is not to provide false hope,” said Hahn, who spoke after Trump, adding, “We may have the right drug, but it might not be in the appropriate dosage form right now, and it might do more harm than good.”
Numerous clinical studies have been conducted globally regarding the performance of chloroquine and remdesivir since the beginning of the pandemic.
Most recently a French study that included use of a chloroquine variant called hydroxychloroquine found that it performed particularly well in tandem with an antibiotic known as azithromycin.
Still, Hahn said that even if a drug is already approved for other use, it’s crucial for the safe deployment of any therapeutic treatment that researchers determine the right does to protect a patient’s health.