Sector News

Trump talks antiviral progress amid COVID-19 pandemic

March 19, 2020
Life sciences

In a much-anticipated press conference Thursday, President Donald Trump said the U.S. has stepped up near-term efforts to advance and make available antivirals to help patients with COVID-19 illnesses.

But despite the urgency and the progress, FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn said it’s important to learn more about all potential treatments.

Amid the pandemic, one drug that’s gained attention in various countries is chloroquine, a decades-old malaria med that’s available for cheap. President Trump said the U.S. is going to make the drug available by prescription “almost immediately.”

Chloroquine is already approved to treat malaria, and Hahn said investigators are planning a “large, pragmatic clinical trial” to learn more. But, the commissioner cautioned, it’s always important to get the “right drug” to the “right patient” at the “right dosage” at the “right time.” The wrong dose could actually hurt a patient’s condition, he added.

While chloroquine isn’t approved for patients with novel coronavirus infections, Trump may have been referencing an off-label use for the medicine. It wasn’t immediately clear how the drug would become available imminently.

Aside from chloroquine, the president and FDA commissioner Hahn talked about efforts to test Gilead’s remdesivir, originally developed for Ebola. Trump said that drug is “very close to approved,” but Hahn declined to specify potential approval timelines.

Coronavirus tracker: Merck CEO calls on Americans to limit contact; FDA halts domestic inspections

Other efforts are underway for plasma-based therapies and repurposing existing medicines, Hahn said at the press conference.

Meanwhile, investigators have launched a vaccine trial “in record time,” the president said. It’ll be 12 months before the study completes and the FDA could potentially approve the shot, Hahn said.

Until then, the antivirals and other drugs are intended to be a “bridge” for treatment until the medical community has a deployable vaccine, Hahn added.

By Eric Sagonowsky

Source: Fierce Pharma

comments closed

Related News

December 3, 2022

Sanofi moves into swanky new Paris HQ designed around hybrid work and sustainability

Life sciences

Monday, the French pharma giant officially moved into its new global home base in Paris, dubbed La Maison Sanofi. The 9,000-square-meter (about 96,875-square-foot) facility comprises two historic buildings and will host around 500 employees, the company explained in a release.

December 3, 2022

As CEO Schultz eyes retirement, Teva taps former Sandoz head Francis as its next leader

Life sciences

On the first day of the new year, former Sandoz chief Richard Francis will take the reins from Schultz, who is hanging up his CEO hat to retire on Dec. 31, Teva said Monday. The news comes a little more than two weeks after Teva publicly said it was looking for Schultz’s replacement.

December 3, 2022

General Electric sets healthcare division spinoff plans

Life sciences

General Electric Co. set the terms for the spinoff of its healthcare division, putting an initial value of roughly $31 billion on the soon-to-be-public company. The Boston conglomerate plans to split into three separate public companies by early 2024. Following the healthcare spinoff, it plans to separate its aerospace business from its power and renewable-energy units.