Coronavirus and chloroquine: Has its use been approved in US?
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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.
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.”
He has subsequently announced that New York state would be starting a trial combining both the anti-malarial and an antibiotic known as Zithromax for treatment for Covid-19 patients.
It’s no surprise that chloroquine has been part of the search to help coronavirus patients.
It’s well-known, and cheap and easy to produce. In treating malaria patients, the drug has been used to reduce fever and inflammation.
“Chloroquine seems to block the coronavirus in lab studies. There’s some anecdotal evidence from doctors saying it has appeared to help,” says James Gallagher, BBC health correspondent.
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