- The UK government is seeking to buy 16 million hydroxychloroquine tablets in case the drug proves to be an effective coronavirus treatment.
- President Donald Trump claimed this week that he regularly takes the drug, despite it not being proven to either prevent or treat, the virus.
- Scientists have warned that the anti-malarial drug could have adverse effects if self-administered.
- UK scientists are carrying out tests to see if the drug could be a successful treatment.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The UK government is seeking to purchase 16 million hydroxychloroquine tablets in case claims by Donald Trump that the anti-malarial drug is an effective treatment against the coronavirus, prove to be right.
Trump on Monday said that he had been taking the drug every day for 10 days, despite medical experts warning that it is not proven to be an effective treatment for the COVID-19 virus and could have damaging effects on some patients.
“I take it,” Trump told reporters. “I would have told you that three, four days ago, but we never had a chance because you never asked me the question.”
Prominent US doctor Dr. Manny Alvarez has described Trump’s statement as “highly irresponsible.”
“In most hospitals including mine, we’re not using chloroquine in the treatment of COVID patients at the present time, and we have one of the largest populations of COVID admissions in our medical centre,” he said.
A spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday sought to distance the UK government from Trump’s decision, telling reporters: “It’s not something which our own medical experts are recommending.”
However, despite this, Johnson’s government is inviting offers from pharmaceutical companies to provide 16 million tablets of Hydroxychloroquine, The Guardian newspaper reports.
The contract will be put out to tender on Friday, with UK scientists planning to test the drug and distribute it to the general public if it proves to be an effective treatment for the virus.
One source with knowledge of the contract told The Guardian that the drug was being bought in bulk in case it proved to be an effective treatment.
“All of the drugs being purchased can be used to treat other conditions too so they don’t really go to waste if they aren’t proved effective for COVID,” the source said.
The UK government is reportedly concerned that Trump’s endorsement could trigger a worldwide shortage of the drug, which is used to treat other conditions.
The request is part of a contract worth £35 million, with the UK government planning to purchase over 33 million tablets of various drugs from pharmaceutical companies, as it tries to identify potential treatments for the COVID-19 disease.
Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing editor of Fox News' health news, says that it is "highly irresponsible" for Trump to claim that he's now taking hydroxychloroquine.
He also wants the White House physician to explain what's changed since studies have shown no benefits. pic.twitter.com/QAxYVTM1kG
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) May 18, 2020
Business Insider has previously reported that two major studies found that hydroxychloroquine was not effective for treating COVID-19.
Two observational studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicineand the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that from thousands of hospitalized coronavirus patients, those who got the drug did not do any better or worse than those who didn’t get it.
The JAMA study also found that those who received hydroxychloroquine combined with the antibiotic azithromycin had a higher rate of cardiac arrest.