Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

FDA: You Can Use Chloroquine to Treat COVID-19; EU Regulators: Not Just Yet

By Brian Orelli, PhD – Apr 2, 2020 at 6:45PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Regulators take different approaches to the unapproved medications.

Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine aren't approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, but the agency has granted an emergency-use authorization for the drugs, which were originally developed to treat malaria.

In Europe however, regulators are taking more of a wait-and-see approach, suggesting doctors only prescribe the drugs to patients taking them for the diseases they're approved for. Hydroxychloroquine, which is less potent but safer than chloroquine, is also used for autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

"Prescriptions should not be given outside their authorised uses except in the setting of a clinical trial or nationally agreed protocols," the European Medicines Agency said in a statement.

Woman and her doctors behind a caution: outbreak alert sign

Image source: Getty Images.

Data from initial studies of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquin in COVID-19 patients has been somewhat positive, but the studies have been fairly small. A study of hydroxychloroquine plus the antibiotic azithromycin in France only had 20 treated patients in it. A study in China was a little larger with 62 patients, split equally into treatment with hydroxychloroquine or the control group.

By contrast, the University of Minnesota is running a 3,000-patient study of chloroquine. Larger studies will be needed to know for sure whether the drugs are helping patients.

Multiple drugmakers, including Bayer (BAYR.Y -0.74%), Teva Pharmaceutical (TEVA 0.11%), Novartis (NVS -1.10%), Mylan (MYL) and Amneal Pharmaceuticals (AMRX) have committed to donating chloroquine or hydrochloroquine tablets or have announced plans to ramp up production of the drugs.

Brian Orelli has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Mylan. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Novartis Stock Quote
Novartis
NVS
$77.37 (-1.10%) $0.86
Mylan Stock Quote
Mylan
MYL
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Stock Quote
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries
TEVA
$8.84 (0.11%) $0.01
Bayer Aktiengesellschaft Stock Quote
Bayer Aktiengesellschaft
BAYR.Y
$12.06 (-0.74%) $0.09
Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Stock Quote
Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
AMRX
$2.23 (%)

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
342%
 
S&P 500 Returns
110%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 10/06/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.