Sanofi offers 100 million doses of hydroxychloroquine in coronavirus fight

Both hydroxychloroquine, which Sanofi sells under the brand name Plaquenil, and the related compound chloroquine are being studied worldwide as potential weapons in the coronavirus fight. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 10 April 2020

Sanofi offers 100 million doses of hydroxychloroquine in coronavirus fight

  • Proposals to put hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to use immediately for more patients have proven highly controversial

PARIS: French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi said Friday it would offer 100 million doses of hydroxychloroquine, a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, to governments worldwide if studies show it can safely to be used to treat COVID-19 patients.
Both hydroxychloroquine, which Sanofi sells under the brand name Plaquenil, and the related compound chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, are being studied worldwide as potential weapons in the coronavirus fight.
But proposals to put them to use immediately for more patients have proven highly controversial, with many experts warning there is not yet enough evidence of their safety or effectiveness against COVID-19.
A French doctor in particular, Didier Raoult, has raised hopes by treating patients with a combination of hydroxychloroquine (HQC) and the antibiotic azithromycin, an initiative that many health officials refuse to endorse in the absence of more rigorous studies.
On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron met Raoult and his team in Marseille to discuss their latest findings, though the president did not comment publicly on the meeting afterward.
Sanofi acknowledged that “interpretations of the available preliminary data on hydroxychloroquine in the management of COVID-19 differ widely.
“While hydroxychloroquine is generating a lot of hope for patients around the world, it should be remembered that there are no results from ongoing studies, and the results may be positive or negative.”
But chief executive Paul Hudson said in a statement, “If the trials prove positive, we hope our donation will play a critical role for patients.”
Other companies have also pledged to offer the drugs, with Switzerland’s Novartis proposing 130 million doses of chloroquine, and Israeli generic producer Teva promising 10 million doses of HQC for US hospitals.
Sanofi is also working on a potential vaccine for the new coronavirus, which has killed more than 94,000 people worldwide since cases were first reported in China last December.


France halts hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus treatment

Updated 27 May 2020

France halts hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus treatment

  • The move came after two French advisory bodies and the World Health Organization warned this week that the drug had been shown to be potentially dang
  • The drug is also used to treat malaria

PARIS: The French government on Wednesday banned treatment of COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine, a controversial and potentially harmful drug that US President Donald Trump has said he is taking preventively.
The move came after two French advisory bodies and the World Health Organization warned this week that the drug — a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus — had been shown to be potentially dangerous in several studies.
The urgency of the coronavirus outbreak has prompted some doctors to prescribe the drug despite a lack of research to demonstrate its efficacy against the coronavirus.
Among them were a French infectious disease specialist who caught the ear of Trump, who stunned his own administration last week by revealing he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure against COVID-19.
Under the new French rules, the drug can be used only in clinical trials to test its efficacy against coronavirus — making it unclear if the French doctor, Didier Raoult, would be able to continue using it at his hospital in Marseille in the south.
Raoult has already rejected a comprehensive study published last week in The Lancet medical journal, which found that administering hydroxychloroquine or its related compound chloroquine actually increased the risk of dying for many patients.
Hydroxychloroquine, also used to treat malaria, is sold under the brand name Plaquenil by French pharma giant Sanofi, which promised to offer governments millions of doses if studies proved it could be safely used in the coronavirus fight.