The drug that's leading the fight against coronavirus
So what are these drugs?
Here are some facts you need to know...
They are synthetic forms of quinine, which has been used to treat malaria for centuries. Chloroquine has been used to treat malaria since the 1930s. Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) came along a decade later and has fewer side effects; it is also commonly used to treat other inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Why are anti-malarials suddenly in limelight?
According to the US Centre of Disease Control and Prevention, the drugs demonstrated in-vitro -- that is, in lab experiments outside of human organisms -- activity against SARS-CoV-2 (called Covid-19) and other coronaviruses, with hydroxychloroquine having relatively higher potency.
A Chinese study also reported that HCQ can efficiently inhibit SARS-CoV-2 infection in vitro.
These preliminary studies sparked intense interest after Trump tweeted that hydroxychloroquine plus an antibiotic (azithromycin) could be “one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine“ and should “be put in use immediately.“ He also cited a French study that gave the combo to six patients.
French doctors and politicians also are pushing to expand hydroxychloroquine’s use.
What is the evidence of HCQ’S efficacy so far?
A China report claimed chloroquine helped more than 100 patients at 10 hospitals, but they had various degrees of illness and were treated with various doses for different lengths of time. They also might have recovered without the drug — there was no comparison group.
The French study attracted most attention.
Hydroxychloroquine was given to 26 people with confirmed infections. Six also were given the antibiotic azithromycin. Six days later no patients given hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin had virus detected versus 57% of those given the malaria drug alone and 12.5% of some other patients who received neither drug. But there were other issues with the study.
Are they known to have severe side effects?
What do experts say?
In pic: Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health Dr. Anthony Fauci talks to reporters in Washington.
Where are the clinical trials happening?
Indian and foreign firms ready to ramp up production...
* FDA has lifted import restrictions on an Indian pharmaceutical company Mumbai-based Ipca Laboratories; Ipca said USFDA “has made exception to the import alert” for three of its facilities, allowing it to supply tablets as well as raw materials for making chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulphate.
* Foreign firms Mylan, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Amneal Pharmaceuticals Inc are ramping up production of their own versions of hydroxychloroquine. Novartis and Bayer AG have said they will donate their own versions of that drug.