Mar 18, 2020 - Health

Scoop: Bayer to donate potential coronavirus drug to U.S.

A photo of nurses screening patients for COVID-19 virus testing at a drive-up location outside Medstar St. Mary's Hospital on March 17, 2020 in Leonardtown, Maryland.
Nurses screen patients for COVID-19 virus testing at a drive-up location outside Medstar St. Mary's Hospital on March 17, 2020 in Leonardtown, Maryland. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Pharma company Bayer will soon make a large donation to the U.S. government of a drug that has shown some promise in helping patients suffering from the novel coronavirus, according to a senior Health and Human Services official and another source with direct knowledge.

Why it matters: It doesn't hurt to have a potential treatment on hand, but we're still a very long way from having an approved, clinically tested treatment for the coronavirus.

The big picture: Early evidence suggests that chloroquine — an inexpensive anti-malarial drug — may work just as well, if not even better, than remdesivir, a drug owned by Gilead, which is undergoing clinical trials for treatment of the coronavirus.

  • A study published in Nature found that "remdesivir and chloroquine are highly effective in the control of 2019-nCoV infection in vitro."
  • "Chloroquine shouldn’t be left out of the discussion of candidate COVID-19 therapies and may actually be leading the pack," Raymond James wrote in a research note earlier this month.

Yes, but: This doesn't change the need for massive coronavirus efforts, as there is no proven coronavirus treatment or vaccine.

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