The French government has officially sanctioned the malaria drug chloroquine to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus, France 24 English reported.
“This ensures continued treatment of patients who have been treated for several years for a chronic condition with this drug, but also allows a temporary authorization to allow certain patients with coronavirus to benefit from this therapeutic route,” said France’s director general of health Jérôme Salomon.
The move comes after infectious diseases specialist Didier Raoult announced new clinical results, which can be accessed here, that show 78 out of 80 patients treated with chloroquine recovered within five days, reported Trustnodes.
The five-day recovery time is “considerably” faster “than the usual 14 days and for some it can go up to 28 days if they recover at all,” the outlet highlighted.
France’s Minister of Health Olivier Véran said Thursday: “Hydroxychloroquine and the combination of lopinavir / ritonavir may be prescribed, dispensed and administered under the responsibility of a doctor to patients affected by Covid-19, in the healthcare establishments which take charge of them, as well as for the continuation of their treatment if their condition allows it and with the authorization of the initial prescriber, at home.”
Dr. Raouly cheered the news via social media on Saturday: “Thanks to Philippe Douste-Blazy, former Minister of Health and member of the Board of Directors of the @IHU_Marseille, for his position,” he wrote.
— Didier Raoult (@raoult_didier) March 28, 2020
Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration on Sunday issued an emergency authorization for experimental coronavirus treatments using chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, anti-malaria drugs touted by President Donald Trump despite inconclusive clinical proof of their effectiveness.
The Department of Health and Human Services said Sunday hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine products can “be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with Covid-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible.”
Scientists hope chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine—decades-old drugs that are used to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis—may be used to treat the coronavirus, but early studies have provided mixed evidence proving their effectiveness and the drugs may have risks such as vision problems or cardiac arrest. The frenzy surrounding the treatment has caused some doctors to hoard hydroxychloroquine—which is sold under the brand name Plaquenil—by writing prescriptions for themselves or for their families.