Novartis, US regulators agree to malaria drug trial against COVID-19

File: The medicine has been touted by US President Donald Trump, who has said he used it as a prophylaxis against the novel coronavirus.

File: The medicine has been touted by US President Donald Trump, who has said he used it as a prophylaxis against the novel coronavirus.

AFP/Gerard Julien

ZURICH - Novartis has reached an agreement with US regulators to hold a randomised trial of generic malaria drug hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19 disease in 440 hospitalised patients, the Swiss drugmaker said on Monday.

The decades-old medicine has received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorisation for coronavirus disease, but so far there is no scientific proof it helps those afflicted.

READ: Use malaria drugs only for virus emergencies: EU agency

"We recognise the importance of answering the scientific question of whether hydroxychloroquine will be beneficial for patients with COVID-19 disease,” said John Tsai, Novartis's top drug developer.

The drug, also used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, has been promoted by President Donald Trump, with some worried the administration's advocacy for an unproven medicine for COVID-19 has short-circuited the oversight process.

Source
Reuters