The Food and Drug Administration was forced to issue a correction to President Donald Trump’s claim about a drug that could possibly treat COVID-19.
The president claimed Thursday during a news conference that the experimental malaria drug chloroquine had been approved to treat patients during the coronavirus outbreak with a doctor’s prescription, but that doesn’t appear to be true, reported Bloomberg.
“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,” Trump said.
But minutes later, FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn said use of that drug would be tested in a clinical trial to determine a safe and effective dosage.
“We want to do that in a setting of a clinical trial,” Hahn told reporters.
French researchers found that a combination of hydroxychloroquine, a popular drug used to treat malaria, and the antibiotic azithromycin could be effective in treating COVID-19 and reduce the duration of the virus.
The researchers treated 30 confirmed COVID-19 patients hydroxychloroquine on its own or in combination with the antibiotic, and found the results promising.
Their results were similar to previous reports from patients in China who were treated with the same drugs.
Doctors are permitted to prescribe drugs for non-approved uses, or off-label usage, but an FDA spokesman said chloroquine had not been approved for COVID-19.
Trump also said that the experimental drug remdesivir was “essentially approved,” but Hahn said afterward that the FDA had a responsibility to ensure drugs are safe and effective.
The FDA has loosened some of its rules on regulation to meet the crisis, such as its decision to allow states to regulate tests to diagnose the virus so those kits can be rolled out faster.