Toxicologist says new drug combination to treat coronavirus looks ‘promising’

Top health officials as well as President Donald Trump himself have touted in recent days a new combination of medications that may be effective in treating the novel coronavirus disease known as COVID-19. And according to one toxicologist, the drugs look “promising.”

Dr. Chris Martenson told Fox News on Saturday that though thorough testing still needs to be done to determine the drugs’ true effectiveness, the combination of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic known as azithromycin is “the most promising treatment” for COVID-19 that he’s seen so far.

“The most promising treatment”

During an appearance on Fox & Friends Weekend, Dr. Martenson acknowledged that though chloroquine — a more potent version of hydroxychloroquine — has had a bit of a “spotty past,” it “has been around a really long time.” Still, the toxicologist noted, the drug can be unsafe “at certain levels.”

“But at the levels that they used in this study, it seems to be reasonably safe,” Martenson told Fox.

Still, the toxicologist cautioned that there a lot of questions still remaining.

“Unfortunately, we don’t know a lot yet about how this [drug] is really going to behave in this patient population because the studies in question just involved a couple of dozen people,” he said Saturday. “That said, it’s probably the most promising treatment that I’ve seen, so far, come out.”

Chloroquine, Martenson said, works by allowing zinc to interfere with the virus and prevent it from replicating as it normally would.

As for the azithromycin, Martenson said it remains unclear exactly how that antibiotic works against the new coronavirus. “Maybe that’s helping to stop any secondary infections that may come along in the damaged lungs,” he speculated.

Not a cure, but a start

According to Fox, Martenson went on to say that it’s also unknown how much better patients who receive this drug combination are actually faring long-term.

“This is not a cure,” he noted, according to Fox. “We don’t know if it works on a preventative basis yet. But what this does is it seems to give a better outcome once in the clinic.”

For his part, President Donald Trump has touted the drug combination as possibly “one of the biggest game-changers in the history of medicine.” He wrote in a tweet on Saturday that he hopes both hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin will “be put in use immediately.”

“People are dying, move fast, and God bless everyone,” the president wrote.

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