September 28, 2020

Coronavirus and chloroquine: Has its use been approved in US?

President Trump claims a drug used against malaria has been approved in the United States to treat the new coronavirus.

Chloroquine is one of the oldest and best-known anti-malarial drugs.

So is the president right and what is known about its effectiveness?

Chloroquine has been around for decades. It’s no longer recommended in much of Africa because of the resistance built up to it by the malaria parasites.

Some countries have introduced regulations to curb the use of the drug, but it has remained popular in those with an active private-sector drug market and is sold widely.

This is especially true in Nigeria where there have been reports of high demand for chloroquine in pharmacies leading to shortages, in part fuelled by Mr Trump’s statement.

Chloroquine has not been approved for treating coronavirus
President Trump, at his daily press briefing, claimed that chloroquine had been approved for use in treating the coronavirus by the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA). That is the body in charge of licensing medicines in America.

“We’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately. And that’s where the FDA has been so great. They’ve gone through the approval process – it’s been approved.”

To be clear, chloroquine has been approved to treat malaria and arthritis. However, the FDA has made it clear this is not the case for treating people with the Covid-19 coronavirus.

“There are no FDA-approved therapeutics or drugs to treat, cure or prevent Covid-19.”

However, the FDA does say that studies are under way to see if chloroquine can be effective in the treatment of Covid-19. It also says it has been directed by Mr Trump to set up a large clinical trial to investigate the drug.

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