Novartis' malaria drug biggest hope against COVID-19, CEO says

In an interview with SonntagsZeitung, Novartis (NYSE:NVS) CEO Vas Narasimhan says pre-clinical studies in animals as well as the first data from clinical studies show that its hydroxychloroquine malaria drug kills the coronavirus.

Vas Narasimhan says the company is working with Swiss hospitals on possible treatment protocols for the clinical use of the drug, “but it’s too early to say anything definitively.”

The CEO says Novartis is recruiting patients for hydroxychloroquine in Europe and the U.S. for clinical studies and is in talks with regulatory authorities in the U.S. and Switzerland on whether the company will be granted rapid approval.

Novartis has pledged to donate 130M doses and is supporting clinical trials needed before the medicine, which Pres. Trump also has been promoting, can be approved for use against COVID-19.

In addition to hydroxychloroquine, Narasimhan says multiple sclerosis drug Gilenya, cancer drug Jakavi and fever drug Ilaris are being tested in clinical studies.


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