Sanofi (SNY 0.23%) CEO Paul Hudson said that his company is ready, willing and able to produce a drug that seems to be efficacious in treating COVID-19, the disease that can result from the rapidly spreading SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

In an interview with Reuters published Thursday, Hudson claimed that Sanofi has the capability to make and distribute millions of doses of hydroxychloroquine if the drug is successful against COVID-19 in clinical trials. A more precise number was not provided.

Although hydroxychloroquine is a decades-old drug used chiefly to treat malaria -- which caused by a parasite, not a virus -- several limited-scale studies have indicated that it may be effective against COVID-19. But more testing will be required for a fuller understanding.

A coronavirus colony.

Image source: Getty Images

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for both hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, an older related medication, to be used in the treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The FDA has not, however, formally approved either for use in treating COVID-19.

Several major pharmaceutical companies had pledged to supply large quantities of hydroxychloroquine and its relative before Hudson's latest utterances on the drug. Last month, Mylan relaunched its manufacture of the medication. At the time, Mylan said it planned to have it available by the middle of this month, and said it can produce as many as 50 million tablets -- enough to treat more than 1.5 million people.

Meanwhile, Teva Pharmaceutical has pledged to donate 10 million hydroxychloroquine tablets to treatment efforts, and Bayer promised to donate 3 million chloroquine tablets. 

In early trading on Friday, Sanofi shares were up by nearly 0.5%, in contrast to the broader S&P 500 market index, which at the time was down by about 1%.