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US Pharma Companies Test Malaria Drug to Fight Coronavirus

Cyprus News - MicroscopeTwo pharmaceutical companies plan to restart production of a decades-old malaria drug following research that suggests it may help to combat the new coronavirus COVID-19.

The United States government has focused on testing the drug and developing it in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mylan (MYL) and Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA) plan to kickstart production of hydroxychloroquine, which is also approved for treating lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. The medicine has been prescribed sparingly, mostly to travellers, and was in short supply this month, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, which counted a handful of manufacturers that were not shipping tablets.

More than a dozen generic drugmakers, including Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Mylan NV and Novartis AG’s Sandoz unit, manufacture chloroquine, also called hydroxychloroquine. It comes with few major known side effects, is relatively inexpensive and is widely used around the world. China has been testing it as well.

Reportedly some doctors in the US have been prescribing the medicine after several studies have indicated a promise of a response against Covid-19. This has prompted the Trump administration to act quickly to discover if the drug and a closely related medicine chloroquine can help to halt the spread of the virus.

Mylan plans to restart production of hydroxychloroquine tablets at a West Virginia facility to meet “potential” increased demand and is looking to begin manufacturing outside the US in the coming weeks, the company has said. Mylan noted that the World Health Organisation has listed the drug as being under investigation for combating the coronavirus.

The pharmaceutical company anticipates supplying the pills by mid-April, based on existing supplies of the active pharmaceutical ingredient, and the boosting production to provide 50 million tablets and potentially treat a total of more than 1.5 million patients. The potential use of this medicine for Covid-19 related treatment is pending additional FDA and other regulatory body guidance, the company added.

Reuters, Bloomberg

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