As federal agencies continue to investigate possible treatment options for the novel coronavirus, pharmaceutical company Bayer announced on Thursday that it is donating 3 million tablets of its antimalarial drug chloroquine phosphate to the US government.
Sharing details first with CNN, Bayer said in a statement that chloroquine phosphate, sold under the name Resochin, originally has been indicated for the prevention and treatment of malaria, but also appears to have “broad spectrum antiviral properties” and effects on the body’s immune response.
“New data from initial preclinical and evolving clinical research conducted in China, while limited, shows potential for the use of Resochin in treating patients with COVID-19 infection,” the statement said.
“Bayer in recent days has been in talks with the White House, HHS, CDC, and the FDA, offering any assistance we can provide with a focus on donating Resochin to help in the government's efforts to combat the virus. Currently not approved for use in the United States, Bayer is working with appropriate agencies on an Emergency Use Authorization for the drug's use in the U.S,” the statement said. “Bayer thanks the Trump administration for moving quickly to enable this donation and will continue to work closely with the administration to support its efforts in the fight against COVID-19.”
Earlier Thursday: President Trump said the antimalarial drug chloroquine and its analog hydroxychloroquine would be available with a prescription to treat the novel coronavirus.
Early evidence from human cells suggests that chloroquine — which is used to treat malaria and autoimmune diseases — may have some activity against the novel coronavirus.
Doctors in China, the US and other countries have used the drug experimentally in COVID-19 patients, but there is not yet sufficient clinical evidence that it's effective in humans.