The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) received a combined total of 31 million doses of medicine March 29 which may help combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The donation was a combined effort of two companies: Sandoz, which donated 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate, and Bayer Pharmaceuticals, which donated 1 million doses of chloroquine phosphate, according to a news release.
Both hydroxychloroquine sulfate and chloroquine phosphate are oral medications that have been proven to treat malaria and other diseases. Although there is no official treatment for COVID-19 currently, lab testing has shown that these drugs could potentially have some benefit for those infected with the coronavirus, the release says.
“Scientists in America and around the world have identified multiple potential therapeutics for COVID-19, including chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar says in the release. “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.”
To make this donation possible, the HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response worked closely with the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security, the release says.
The Food and Drug Administration also played a role by issuing an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in order for the drugs to be distributed and prescribed through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
According to the press release, an EUA may be issued “if the known and potential benefits of the product, when used to diagnose, prevent, or treat the identified disease or condition, outweigh the known and potential risks of the product, and there are no adequate, approved, available alternatives.”
In addition to these donations, the HHS is also funding clinical trials of two other drugs: Kevzara (sarilumab) and remdesivir and is continuing to develop a vaccine among other treatments, according to the release.