President Trump announced Thursday that a very promising drug – which he called a “game-changer” –will be made available to test its effectiveness in helping patients recover from the coronavirus.
Trump said that the potentially life-saving drug, chloroquine, has shown “very, very encouraging early results. And we’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately.”
The president also said it was one of a number of antiviral therapies to limit the symptoms of the virus that the administration is trying to get to Americans as quickly as possible.
Addressing potential safety concerns, Trump noted that it had been used previously in treating malaria, “so we know if things don’t go as planned, it’s not going to kill anybody.”
Trump has enabled the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to fast track the drug by removing massive amounts of red tape.
“I have directed the FDA to eliminate rules and bureaucracy so work can proceed rapidly, quickly and fast,” Trump said. “We have to remove every barrier.”
FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn explained during the press conference it would be allowed under what’s known “compassionate use” – where doctors can request to use the experimental drug and get permission from the FDA to give to patients.
Hahn also said he didn’t want to give “false hope” but said he was hopeful about the treatments.
According to information posted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “Chloroquine (also known as chloroquine phosphate) is an antimalarial medicine” that is currently “available in the United States by prescription only.”
“It is sold under the brand name Aralen, and it is also sold as a generic medicine,” the CDC outlines, adding, “Chloroquine can be prescribed for either prevention or treatment of malaria.”
A clinical trial report posted February 18 connects chloroquine to combating COVID-19.
“Early data from clinical trials being performed in China has revealed that chloroquine phosphate could help treat the new coronavirus disease, Covid-19,” the report said. “China National Center for Biotechnology Development deputy head Sun Yanrong said that chloroquine, an anti-malarial medication, was selected after several screening rounds of thousands of existing drugs.”
“Data from the drug’s studies showed ‘certain curative effect’ with ‘fairly good efficacy,’” the report added.
The report outlined that, “patients treated with chloroquine demonstrated a better drop in fever, improvement of lung CT images, and required a shorter time to recover compared to parallel groups.”
He also said another drug, remdesivir, would be made available too. He said it would remain to be seen whether it would help combat the crisis.
“And that’s a drug used for other purposes that’s been out and it’s had very good results for other purposes, but it seems to have a very good result having to do with this virus. And that drug also has been approved, or very close to approved in that case, by the FDA.”
This impressive move by the Trump administration marks the latest in a series of aggressive attempts to take on this disruptive disease and it could just be the one that leads us out of this nightmare scenario.