The FDA has recently announced that it is working with government agencies and academic centers, which are evaluating the use of chloroquine to treat patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 to potentially reduce the duration of symptoms, as well as viral shedding, and help prevent the spread of the disease.
Chloroquine is already approved for treating malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Studies are underway to determine the efficacy of using chloroquine to treat COVID-19.
In response, generic maker, Mylan N. V. MYL, has restarted production of hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets at its West Virginia manufacturing facility in the United States to meet the expected increased demand resulting from potential effectiveness of the product in treating COVID-19. The company is also taking steps to initiate production of this product outside the United States in the coming weeks. The company expects to be in a position to begin supplying the product by mid-April and to ramp up manufacturing to provide 50 million tablets to potentially treat a total of more than 1.5 million patients.
Although the product is not currently approved for the treatment of COVID-19, it is listed by the World Health Organization as a drug under investigation for efficacy against the coronavirus.
Rival Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. TEVA announced the immediate donation of more than 6 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets through wholesalers to hospitals across the United States.
We note that there are currently no FDA-approved treatments for the severe illness caused by SARS-CoV-2. Given the alarming levels of spread and severity, some approved drugs or pipeline candidates are being tested to see if they are effective in treating infected patients.
Per an article from Reuters, even Bayer AG BAYRY has donated 3 million tablets of the malaria drug, Resochin, to the government for potential use to treat COVID-19. Resochin, made of chloroquine phosphate and an approved treatment for malaria, is being evaluated in China for its potential use against COVID-19.
President Trump reportedly wants to speed up the approvals of vaccines and treatments to fight the pandemic.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) began a randomized, controlled trial for the treatment of COVID-19 patients with Gilead Sciences’ GILD investigational antiviral drug, remdesivir. Reportedly, remdesivir is already being used in the United States for the treatment of the disease under federal rules that allow the use of unapproved drugs on compassionate grounds. Meanwhile, Regeneron REGN and partner Sanofi SNY announced a program to evaluate their rheumatoid arthritis (RA) drug, Kevzara, to treat patients hospitalized with severe infection due to COVID-19.
Regeneron currently carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Desperate times call for desperate measures and pharma/biotech companies are running a race against time to successfully develop treatments and vaccines to combat this contagious disease. While the drugs and vaccines will need some time to be tested and a cure is not imminent, investors will keep an eye on these companies as the pandemic is not likely to die out soon.
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