Mar 18, 2020 - Health

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

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.

Go deeper

Special status for coronavirus drug caught health officials off guard

President Trump and FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

When an experimental coronavirus treatment received a special designation from the Food and Drug Administration on Monday, it came as a surprise to the government's top health care officials — including the FDA commissioner.

Why it matters: Top officials aren't normally involved in everyday regulatory decisions. But this particular designation was particularly controversial, as critics quickly questioned whether it was giving an unfair financial advantage to one drugmaker in the midst of a pandemic.

Go deeperArrowMar 26, 2020 - Health

Critically ill coronavirus patients can now be treated with survivors' blood

Blood and plasma samples used for the evaluation swabs for coronavirus research in Italy. Photo: Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday new emergency protocols allowing allowing the plasma of those who've recovered from the novel coronavirus to treat patients who are critically ill with COVID-19.

Why it matters: The number of coronavirus infections in the U.S. had risen to almost 54,900 and the death toll to 783 by Tuesday night. Per the FDA, it is possible that this treatment, convalescent plasma, "contains antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) might be effective against the infection."

Go deeperArrowMar 25, 2020 - Health

Big Pharma pushing targeted Facebook ads

Facebook users are seeing more targeted ads from pharmaceutical companies — an ethical gray area for patient data and privacy, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Drug companies don't need to know your medical history to target you for a a drug, and seeing a surprisingly relevant medical ad can feel invasive.

Go deeperArrowMar 4, 2020 - Health