Two companies plan on ramping up production of a drug usually used to treat malaria or arthritis after President Donald Trump praised it and another anti-malarial drug on Thursday.
The Food and Drug Administration chief told reporters that the agency will be doing a clinical trial on hydroxychloroquine, while University of Minnesota researchers recently launched a 1,500-person study to look at its efficacy against COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus. The World Health Organization is also studying hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, a closely related drug.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mishandling allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
After the Trump administration drew attention to the anti-malarial drugs, pharmaceutical company Mylan said it restarted production of hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets at its manufacturing facility in West Virginia.
The move was aimed at meeting the potential for increased demand due to the drug possibly being used to treat COVID-19, the company said in a statement, noting the World Health Organization has the drug listed as a drug under investigation for efficacy against the CCP virus.
Chinese researchers have said chloroquine showed effectiveness inhibiting the new illness in vitro, while French researchers found success using hydroxychloroquine to treat humans with COVID-19.
Mylan expects to be in a position to start supplying tablets by mid-April and produce some 50 million tablets.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is looking into ways to produce additional hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets after announcing a donation of 6 million tablets to hospitals across the United States that will be shipped by the end of the month.
“We are committed to helping to supply as many tablets as possible as demand for this treatment accelerates at no cost,” Brendan O’Grady, an executive vice president at the company, said in a statement.
“Immediately upon learning of the potential benefit of hydroxychloroquine, Teva began to assess supply and to urgently acquire additional ingredients to make more product while arranging for all of what we had to be distributed immediately.”
Teva expects to ship another 10 million tablets or more by the end of April.
Shortages of chloroquine phosphate tablets exist though the reason is unclear, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. Hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets are also in short supply, the group said.
Erin Fox, director of the drug information service at University of Utah Health Care, claimed the shortage of hydroxychloroquine “is being exacerbated by MDs self-prescribing for themselves and family members.”
Rising Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of chloroquine, told the Financial Times that it is ramping up production in India after receiving five times as many orders as usual in the past seven days.
The company increased the price of the drug in January but is now selling at the price it was before, an executive told the paper.
Bayer, meanwhile, said it was donating three million chloroquine phosphate tablets in partnership with the United States government.
“Bayer in recent days has been in talks with the White House, HHS, CDC, and the FDA, offering any assistance we can provide with a focus on donating Resochin to help in the government’s efforts to combat the virus,” the company said in a statement, referring to the name of its chloroquine drug.
“Currently not approved for use in the United States, Bayer is working with appropriate agencies on an Emergency Use Authorization for the drug’s use in the U.S.”