President Trump said Thursday he has instructed the Food and Drug Administration to speed up studies on two drugs he says could be a “game-changer” in the treatment of COVID-19.
The first drug, chloroquine (sometimes called hydroxychloroquine), is commonly used around the world to treat malaria and arthritis and has shown promise in other countries to treat patients who have contracted the novel coronavirus.
The second drug, Remdesivir, is an antiviral therapy that has been used to treat patients with Ebola but also has shown encouraging results on those with COVID-19. It was developed by Gilead.
Together, Trump said, the drugs show “tremendous promise.” Although neither therapy is a vaccine, they could nevertheless save lives during the months until a vaccine is found.
“I think it's going to be very exciting,” Trump said. “I think it could be a game-changer – and maybe not. But I think it could be based on what I see; it could be a game-changer.”
Australian scientists using chloroquine in trials have said it could be a coronavirus cure.
FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, speaking at the same press conference, announced a “large pragmatic trial” with chloroquine.
“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,” Hahn said.
Remdesivir is “currently in clinical trials” in the U.S. and around the world, Hahn said.
“[President Trump] asked us to be aggressive, to break down barriers to innovation and to accelerate the development of life-saving treatments,” Hahn said. “We’re doing that at the FDA.”
Still, the FDA must ensure that any new treatments are safe, Hahn added.
“We need to make sure that this sea of new treatments will get the right drug to the right patient at the right dosage at the right time,” he said.
Trump called the battle against COVID-19 a “medical war.”
“There's never been anything like this in history,” he said, referencing the shutdown of much of the economy. “... We have to win this war. It's very important.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Drew Angerer/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.