NIH to study malaria drug championed by President Trump against COVID-19

FILE PHOTO: A nurse exhibits a Hydroxychloroquine tablet, amid the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) outbreak, at Nossa Senhora da Conceicao hospital in Porto Alegre, Brazil, April 23, 2020. REUTERS/Diego Vara

(Reuters) – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) stated on Thursday it started a study to consider the mix of antibiotic azithromycin and malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which was beforehand touted by U.S. President Donald Trump as a “game changer”, for the remedy of COVID-19.

The mid-stage study, for which Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd can be donating medicines, will assess whether or not the mix can stop hospitalization and dying from COVID-19, the respiratory sickness brought about by the coronavirus.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of the NIH, is sponsoring the trial, which is being carried out by the NIAID-funded AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG).

“Although there is anecdotal evidence that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin may benefit people with COVID-19, we need solid data from a large randomized, controlled clinical trial to determine whether this experimental treatment is safe and can improve clinical outcomes,” NIAID Director Anthony Fauci stated on Thursday.

The announcement comes after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had final month changed Rick Bright as director of a key U.S. company charged with growing medicine and vaccines for COVID-19.

Bright had stated he was ousted as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, as a result of he resisted efforts to push hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to deal with COVID-19 as their effectiveness had not been demonstrated.

The NIH’s newest study will enroll about 2,000 adults at medical websites throughout the nation, with lots of these anticipated to be 60 years of age or older or have a comorbidity related to growing severe issues from COVID-19, akin to a heart problems or diabetes.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had final month warned against the usage of the malaria medicine, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, in COVID-19 sufferers due to the chance of significant coronary heart rhythm issues.

Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri