President Trump said Thursday that the antimalarial drug chloroquine had shown “very encouraging early results” treating COVID-19 and will be rolled out “almost immediately” to help fight the growing coronavirus outbreak.
But moments later, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn cautioned that chloroquine had not yet been approved for treating COVID-19.
Trump said that chloroquine had been very encouraging, and produced very encouraging early results. He said that they were going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately, and that’s where the FDA had been so great.
“They’ve gone through the approval process, it’s been approved and they did it, they took it down from many, many months to immediate.”, Trump said.
Commissioner Stephen Hahn said that they wanted to launch a large clinical trial using malaria drug chloroquine for treatment of COVID-19, adding that they wanted to do that in a setting of a clinical trial.
Trump made his remarks at what has become a White House daily press briefing since the coronavirus outbreak has ground daily life to a halt in many U.S. states.
Chloroquine was introduced to the public in the 1940s to prevent malaria and has a range of possible side effects including headache, loss of appetite, diarrhea, hair loss, skin rashes and mood changes. French researchers have been conducting a clinical trial to determine if the drug can treat COVID-19.
Trump touted the drug and said it could soon be used widely for the coronavirus.
“A drug called chloroquine, and some people would add to it, hydroxychloroquine, so, chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine, now this is a common malaria drug. It’s also a drug used for strong arthritis,” Trump said at Thursday’s coronavirus press briefing. “Somebody has pretty serious arthritis, also uses this in a somewhat different form, but it is known as a malaria drug and it’s been around for a long time and it’s very powerful. But 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.”