Those tablets will be made available nationwide through Amneal’s existing retail and wholesale customers, as well as through direct sales to larger institutions in need, the company said.
An Indian American-owned pharma firm has pledged to donate 3.4 million Hydroxychloroquine Sulphate tablets to some of the key COVID-19 battleground states, including New York and Louisiana, joining the war against the dreaded coronavirus which by Tuesday had taken lives of more than 12,800 people in the US alone.
Owned by philanthropic billionaire Chirag and Chintu Patel, New Jersey-based Amneal Pharmaceuticals, which is one of the largest US-based manufacturers, has also announced ramping up production of Hydroxychloroquine Sulphate at several of its manufacturing sites and expects to produce approximately 20 million tablets between now and mid-April.
Two weeks ago, French doctors published a provocative observation in a microbiology journal. In the absence of a known treatment for COVID-19, the doctors had taken to experimentation with a potent drug known as hydroxychloroquine. For decades, the drug has been used to treat malaria—which is caused by a parasite, not a virus. In six patients with COVID-19, the doctors combined hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin (known to many as “Z-Pak,” an antibiotic that kills bacteria, not viruses) and reported that after six days of this regimen, all six people tested negative for the virus.
There are a couple of other things that need to be noted. One is that hydroxychloroquine itself actually lowers the activity of the innate immune system; that’s why people take it for lupus and for rheumatoid arthritis. Many people are saying that perhaps it will work best if taken early in the course of infection, but this effect (which is mediated through TLR receptors) should be kept in mind. Another potentially important point is raised in this preprint – which, it has to be said, is not human data but mouse toxicology. But with that in mind, the authors report what looks like a bad interaction in that species between HCQ and metformin. And by “bad”, I mean about 30% mortality. If this translates at all to humans, it could be bad news, because (as mentioned above) diabetics look like a high-risk group and many patients may well have been taking metformin when they present at the hospital. We need more information on this. An investigational drug combination that showed this effect in mice would not move forward in the normal course of things.
Also very important and often forgotten: Do no harm in the course of trying to help people. Doing this uncontrolled testing will put a lot of people at risk and do nothing at best. It might kill people from the outcome of their CoVid-19 disease at worst.
If I talk to people about this point, then they are suddenly not so eager anymore to try out some untested (for this case) drug.