President Donald Trump announced Thursday that the FDA has approved two pre-existing antiviral medications—Remdesivir and Hydroxychloroquine—to battle symptoms of the coronavirus. Generally, Hydroxychloroquine is used to prevent malaria and treat severe arthritis.
“I think it could be a game changer. And maybe not!” Trump said.
While Trump extolled his ability to “slash red tape” so these drugs could go into use immediately, Dr. Stephen Hahn, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner, couched many of the president’s statements.
Dr. Hahn explained that the FDA. would be looking at the efficacy of these antiviral drugs within the context of a clinical trial to begin with.
“What’s also important is not to provide false hope,” Dr. Hahn said. “We may have the right drug, but it might not be in the appropriate dosage form right now, and it might do more harm than good.”
However, these drugs can be used immediately to treat some patients under “compassionate use,” which means ill patients can be approved to use a drug that hasn’t yet been approved by the FDA.
One change Thursday from earlier press conferences is Trump's task force team stood at some distance from one another, practicing social distancing for the first time while conducting the press briefing.
Trump also said he was no longer shaking hands as he introduced Dr. Hahn. “I’d shake his hand but I’m not supposed to do that,” he said.
Globally, cases of the coronavirus have surpassed 222,000. In the U.S., there are over 9,400 cases with more than 150 deaths. As testing ramps up, thousands of more cases are expected to be reported.
“It’s too bad because we’ve never had an economy as good as the economy we had just a few weeks ago," Trump said. "But we’ll be back.”
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