Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Israel’s leading drug producer, announced Thursday that it is donating six million doses of its malaria tablet to the United States as testimonies continue to roll in claiming that it could potentially treat people with the Chinese coronavirus.
Teva said it will ship the hydroxychloroquine tablets via wholesalers to hospitals across the country by March 31 and provide over ten million within a month.
“We are committed to helping to supply as many tablets as possible as demand for this treatment accelerates at no cost,” Teva executive vice president Brendan O’Grady said in a statement.
Teva’s donation came hours after President Donald Trump touted the use of chloroquine to treat patients who have been infected with the coronavirus.
“We’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately,” the president said at a White House press briefing. “The nice part is it’s been around for a long time, so we know that if things don’t go as planned, it’s not going to kill anybody.”
President Trump also highlighted Remdesivir, an anti-viral medication made by Gilead as a possible treatment drug for the disease. The medication has “very, very encouraging early results” during testing, the president noted.
“I think it’s going to be very promising. It could be a game-changer,” he added “And maybe not. Based on what I see, it could be a game-changer. They’re very powerful.”
German pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG also announced it would donate 3 million tablets of its malaria drug, Resochin, to the U.S.
Resochin, made of chloroquine phosphate, is currently not approved for consumption in the U.S., though the drugmaker said it is working with federal public health agencies to secure authorization.
“Resochin, a product discovered by Bayer in 1934 and indicated for prevention and treatment of malaria, also appears to have broad-spectrum antiviral properties and effects on the body’s immune response. New data from initial preclinical and evolving clinical research conducted in China, while limited, shows potential for the use of Resochin in treating patients with COVID-19 infection,” Bayer said in a statement. “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.”
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Stephen Hahn said that his agency, at the direction of President Trump, will immediately put chloroquine through clinical trial testing to treat the virus.