German pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG announced Thursday that it donated 3 million tablets of the malaria drug Resochin to the United States amid testimonies that it could potentially treat individuals with the deadly Chinese coronavirus.
Resochin, which is made of chloroquine phosphate, is presently not approved for consumption in the U.S., though the company is working with federal public health agencies to secure authorization for its use nationwide.
“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.”
“Bayer thanks the Trump administration for moving quickly to enable this donation and will continue to work closely with the administration to support its efforts in the fight against COVID-19,” the statement concluded.
The announcement comes as President Donald Trump touted the use of chloroquine to treat patients who have contacted the coronavirus.
“We’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately,” the president told reporters at the White House press briefing on Thursday.
“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,” he added.
President Trump also promoted Remdesivir, an anti-viral medication manufactured by Gilead as a potential treatment drug for the deadly illness. The anti-viral drugs have shown “very, very encouraging early results” during testing, the president said.
“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.”
At the White House’s direction, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Stephen Hahn stated that his agency will move swiftly to put chloroquine through clinical trial testing to treat the virus.