DUBAI: A leading French pharmaceutical company said it could potentially treat 300,000 COVID-19 patients with the anti-malarial drug Plaquenil after what it described as “promising” test results.
Sanofi said it was ready to offer France millions of doses of Plaquenil, a spokesperson for the laboratory told AFP, adding that the group was ready to work with French health authorities “to confirm these results.”
The study on 24 patients with coronavirus using Plaquenil, a hydroxychloroquine molecule, which has also been used for decades for the treatment of autoimmune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
Six days after the start of taking Plaquenil, the virus had disappeared in three-quarters of those treated, said Professor Didier Raoult, who is director of the Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire de Marseille.
The French government said the clinical trials were “promising” and would be extended to more patients.
These new clinical trials “will be carried out with a team independent from Professor (Didier) Raoult”, said spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye after a Council of Ministers, stressing that at this stage there was “no scientific evidence” that this treatment works.
Several experts called for caution in the absence of further studies due to the dangers of side effects.
“I have taken note of the results and have given the authorization so that a larger trial by other teams can be initiated as soon as possible on a larger number of patients,” said Minister of Health Olivier Veran.