Trump Tells FDA to Look Into Malaria Drug

Says Chloroquine 'could be a game changer'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2020 12:54 PM CDT
Trump Pushes FDA to Fast-Track Drugs
President Trump speaks during press briefing with the coronavirus task force at the White House Thursday, March 19, 2020, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

During his Thursday press conference, President Trump said he has directed the Food and Drug Administration to investigate whether the anti-malaria drug Chloroquine could be used to treat the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Some scientists have suggested it could be effective, CNBC reports. "I think it could be a game changer," Trump said, per the Street, though he added, "and maybe not." He also noted he could "slash red tape" so that drugs found to be effective could start being used right away. FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn (who, as all task force members did, stood at a distance from other people during the presser to practice social distancing) said Trump has "asked us to be aggressive” and “break through exciting, life-saving treatment," but he also tempered some of the president's statements a bit.

"What’s also important is not to provide false hope," Hahn said. "We may have the right drug, but it might not be in the appropriate dosage form right now, and it might do more harm than good." The World Health Organization also said last month there is "no proof" the drug would be useful against coronavirus. A few antiviral medications, including remdesivir and Kaletra (a combination of lopinavir and ritonavir), have been tested by health authorities, but the New York Times reported Wednesday that the Kaletra trial failed. NBC News notes that remdesivir, though, appears to hold promise. Clinical trials are expected next month. (Favipiravir could also be effective.)

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