Bayer donates 3 million tablets of investigational COVID drug

Published: Mar. 19, 2020 at 4:31 PM CDT
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Pharmaceutical giant Bayer is donating three million tablets of an investigational coronavirus drug to the U.S. government for potential use.

Chloroquine phosphate, sold under the name Resochin, is used to treat malaria and autoimmune diseases.

Bayer says it also appears to have broad-spectrum antiviral properties and effects on the body's immune response.

Early evidence from human cells suggests chloroquine may have some activity against the coronavirus.

Bayer says the drug is not currently approved for use in the U.S., but it's working with the federal government on an 'emergency use authorization.'

"It's already approved, as the president said, for the treatment of malaria as well as an arthritis condition," said FDA Commisisonr Stephen Hahn. "That's a drug that the president has directed us to take a closer look at as to whether an expanded use approach to that could be done to actually see if that benefits patients. And again, we want to do that in the setting of a clinical trial, a large pragmatic clinical trial to actually gather that information and answer the question that needs to be answered."

Doctors in China, the U.S. 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.