8 things to know about drugs touted as coronavirus game changers

Two decades-old drugs designed to treat malaria, called chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, have been touted by the Trump administration as "game changers" in the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

 Eight things to know about them: 

  1. Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine were approved in 1949 to treat malaria, but today are used commonly to treat autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

  2. Hydroxychloroquine is a safer, more commonly used version of chloroquine.

  3. Both drugs have shown to be somewhat effective in treating COVID-19 in preliminary trials, but there is no peer-reviewed clinical data showing this.

  4. The FDA granted emergency use authorization for both drugs March 28 to allow COVID-19 patients to be treated with them.

  5. The FDA has warned against taking chloroquine products without a prescription. A man died after taking chloroquine meant for his pet fish.

  6. Several state pharmacy boards have passed emergency rules restricting prescription of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in response to reports that some physicians and pharmacists were stockpiling the drugs for themselves and their families.

  7. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina said it would cover both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for use in treating COVID-19.

  8. Sandoz has donated 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to the strategic national stockpile, and Bayer has donated 1 million doses of chloroquine.

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