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US FDA Approves Chloroquine for Coronavirus Drugs

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of two anti-malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat patients infected with the new coronavirus.

On Sunday, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a statement that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine could be prescribed for adolescent and adult COVID-19 sufferers as they should when clinical trials were not available or feasible.

The announcement was after the FDA issued the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). That marks the first EUA for drugs related to COVID-19 in the US, according to the statement as quoted by Newsweek, Monday, March 30, 2020.

At present, there is no specific drug for COVID-19 that has made more than half a million people sick. According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 720,000 cases have been confirmed, more than 34,000 people have died, and more than 152,000 have recovered since the pandemic began in China late last year.

US FDA Approves Chloroquine for Coronavirus Drugs
An employee checks the production of chloroquine phosphate, resumed after a 15-year break, in a pharmaceutical company in Nantong City, Jiangsu province, China, 27 February 2020 [EPA-EFE/XU CONGJUN]

"Both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are used to treat diseases including malarial, and have shown activity in laboratory studies of coronavirus, including SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19)," HHS said.

"Anecdotal reports indicate that this drug can offer several benefits in the treatment of COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized. Clinical trials are needed to provide scientific evidence that this treatment is effective," HHS added.

Under EUA, health care providers and patients must be provided with fact sheets outlining known risks and drug interactions from that treatment.

HSS said it received 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate from the pharmaceutical company Novartis, and one million chloroquine phosphate from Bayer Pharmaceuticals to be used to treat COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized or in clinical trials.

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