On Thursday, President Trump announced that Hydroxychloroquine, a form of chloroquine, had been approved by the FDA and will soon be available for a prescription for the coronavirus outbreak.
Chloroquine is an immunosuppressive drug and anti-parasite commonly used in malaria treatment. It’s most often taken as a tablet by mouth.
In a press conference, Trump said the prescription will be available “almost immediately” to the general public.
“This is a common malaria drug,” he said. “It’s also used for arthritis…but it is known as a malaria drug and it’s been around for a long time, and it’s very powerful…but the nice part is it’s been around for a long time, so we know that if things don’t go as planned, we know it’s not going to kill anybody. When you go with a brand new drug, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Trump described early results of using chloroquine against coronavirus as “very, very encouraging.”
You can watch his statement here, per ABC News.
Early trials of the drug have suggested that chloroquine could work against coronavirus.
Here’s what you need to know:
Many Trials Have Shown Success Using Chloroquine as a Cure for Coronavirus
Chloroquine has been used as an anti-malaria drug since 1944. Now, over 20 trials in China are testing chloroquine as an antidote for coronavirus, with many more scheduled to begin in England, Thailand, the U.S., and more, ABC reports.
In one study published recently in the Journal of Clinical Care, scientists compiled six articles and 23 ongoing medical trials in China, using the evidence to argue that “chloroquine seems to be effective in limiting the replication of SARS-CoV-2 (virus causing COVID-19) in vitro.”
The scientists concluded,
“There is rational, pre-clinical evidence of effectiveness and evidence of safety from long-term clinical use for other indications to justify clinical research on chloroquine in patients with COVID-19. However, clinical use should either adhere to the Monitored Emergency Use of Unregistered Interventions (MEURI) framework or be ethically approved as a trial as stated by the World Health Organization. Safety data and data from high-quality clinical trials are urgently needed.”
Some Chinese publications have also reported early success in trials with chloroquine and the coronavirus. Per Xinhua, a Chinese state news agency, there was a Feb. 17 report that “Chinese experts, based on the result of clinical trials, have confirmed that chloroquine phosphate…has a certain curative effect on the novel coronavirus.”
WHO lists some adverse side effects with chloroquine when used in malaria treatment, including headaches and gastrointestinal symptoms.
For those wondering how hard it is to get chloroquine, it’s an over-the-counter drug in some countries, and requires a prescription from a doctor in others. In the United States, you need a prescription to get chloroquine.
As Trump has stated, Americans will soon be able to get a prescription for the drug to fight coronavirus. However, the details are still unclear, as to who will be eligible for a prescription, and whether the demand for chloroquine will reach sold-out levels, as the country has seen with other coronavirus-related products like hand sanitizer.