Hydroxychloroquine is flooding the Strategic National Stockpile this week as a potential treatment for COVID-19, thanks to a 30 million dose donation from Sandoz and another 1 million gifted by Bayer Pharmaceuticals.
Both hydroxychloroquine sulfate and chloroquine phosphate were given U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorization (EUA) recently, though this does not mean the drugs are accepted treatments for COVID-19. Instead, both drugs are oral prescription drugs intended for the treatment of malaria and other diseases. While they have shown potential, and hospitals can request and use them for limited COVID-19 treatment, though any data as to their effects is currently insufficient. Serious side effects include renal and liver damage.
Still, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has moved on the drugs under President Trump’s insistence and notes that companies have ramped up production to provide additional supplies of the medications. The Strategic National Stockpile does not regularly stock either drug.
“Scientists in America and around the world have identified multiple potential therapeutics for COVID-19, including chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said. “The President’s bold leadership and the hard work of FDA and HHS’s Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response have succeeded in securing this large donation of medicine. We’ll continue working around the clock to get American patients access to therapeutics that may help them battle COVID-19 while building the evidence to evaluate which options are effective.”
Federal agencies are planning clinical trials. For those administered the drugs under the EUA, fact sheets about the drugs are required to be made available to providers and patients, including the known risks and drug interactions associated with them. This is the first EUA issued for a drug to be used in COVID-19 response.