The US is fast-tracking antimalarial drugs for use as a treatment against the new coronavirus, President Donald Trump said Thursday.
The announcement follows encouraging research into chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in France and China, but many in the wider scientific community have cautioned more work is needed to prove they really work for COVID-19.
“We’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately, and that’s where the (Food and Drug Administration) has been so great,” Trump told reporters, referring to both antimalarials.
“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 US has recorded 10,755 cases of new coronavirus infection, 154 of them fatal. But authorities expect the number to increase steeply in the coming days because of increased levels of testing after initial delays.
FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said that, while the antimalarials have not yet been formally approved, access was being expanded so that authorities could gather more data.
This is known as “compassionate use.”
“If there is an experimental drug that is potentially available, a doctor could ask for that drug to be used in a patient. We have criteria for that and very speedy approval for that,” said Hahn.