Novartis, US agree to malaria drug trial against COVID-19


SWISS drugmaker Novartis on Monday (20) reached an agreement with the US regulators to hold a randomised trial of generic malaria drug hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19 disease in 440 hospitalised patients.



The decades-old medicine has received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorisation for COVID-19 disease, but so far there is no scientific proof it helps those afflicted.

“We recognise the importance of answering the scientific question of whether hydroxychloroquine will be beneficial for patients with COVID-19 disease,” said John Tsai, Novartis’s top drug developer.

The drug, also used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, has been promoted by president Donald Trump, with some worried the administration’s advocacy for an unproven medicine for COVID-19 has short-circuited the oversight process.