As the coronavirus continues to unfold, Donald Trump has been providing daily updates on how his administration is managing it. While there is still no vaccine, the president did mention on Thursday two medications that are showing particular promise as possible treatments, Breitbart reports.
Chloroquine phosphate has been used for decades as an anti-malaria drug, but a recent French study found that it had efficacy in treating the illness, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“We’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately,” the president told reporters of choloroquine during a Thursday press conference.
“The nice part is it’s been around for a long time, so we know that if things don’t go as planned, it’s not going to kill anybody,” he emphasized.
Encouraging treatment news
Dr. Vas Bailey holds a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and he agrees with Trump’s assessment.
“I don’t see Trump’s willingness to jump into humans quickly (to test the drug) as a panicked response,” CNBC quoted Baily as saying.
“It could be a potentially efficient way of using real-world evidence to help us triage which of these safe drugs will work in alleviating symptoms and treating COVID-19,” he added. Pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG also announced on Thursday that it would be donating 3 million units of chloroquine phosphate-containing tablets to the federal government.
In addition to chloroquine, Trump also mentioned an anti-viral drug called Remdesivir. Produced by Gilead, the president spoke of “very, very encouraging early results” in early use of the drug in the treatment of coronavirus patients.
“I think it’s going to be very promising. It could be a game-changer,” he said. “And maybe not. Based on what I see, it could be a game-changer. They’re very powerful.”
Regulatory hurdles remain
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephan Hahn explained that, at present, neither drug has been approved for use in treating COVID-19 and would only be provided for “compassionate use.”
The FDA defines “compassionate use” as the administration of experimental drugs to “a patient with an immediately life-threatening condition or serious disease or condition to gain access to an investigational medical product for treatment outside of clinical trials when no comparable or satisfactory alternative therapy options are available.”
“We need to make sure this sea of new treatments will get the right drug to the right patient at the right dosage at the right time,” Hahn said.