Novartis AG NVS announced that it will provide up to 130 million doses of generic hydroxychloroquine to support the treatment of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The donation comes at a time when countries all over the world are grappling with the spread of this deadly virus.
Notably, hydroxychloroquine and a related drug, chloroquine, are currently being evaluated in studies for the treatment of COVID-19.
The FDA has recently announced that it is working with government agencies and academic centers, which are evaluating the use of chloroquine to treat patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 to potentially reduce the duration of symptoms, as well as viral shedding, and help prevent the spread of the disease.
Chloroquine is already approved for treating malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Studies are underway to determine the efficacy of using chloroquine to treat COVID-19.
Novartis plans to donate up to 130 million 200 mg doses by the end of May, including its current stock of 50 million 200 mg doses, for use in COVID-19 infected patients, supported by regulatory authorities. Novartis is also looking to ramp up its capacity to increase supply to meet global demand.
Novartis’ generic arm, Sandoz, currently holds only a registration for hydroxychloroquine in the United States. The company said it will pursue appropriate regulatory authorizations from the FDA and the European Medicines Agency.
Novartis’ shares have lost 22.4% in the past year compared with the industry’s decline of 15.2%.
We note that there are currently no FDA-approved treatments for the severe illness caused by SARS-CoV-2. Given the alarming levels of spread and severity, some approved drugs or pipeline candidates are being tested to see if they are effective in treating infected patients.
Many other companies have also jumped the bandwagon.
Last week, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. TEVA also announced the immediate donation of more than 6 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets through wholesalers to hospitals across the United States.
Mylan N. V. MYL too restarted production of hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets at its West Virginia manufacturing facility in the United States to meet the expected increased demand, resulting from potential effectiveness of the product in treating COVID-19. The company is also taking steps to initiate the production of this product outside the United States in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, quite a few pharma/biotech companies are working on drugs/treatments to combat this contagious disease as the number of infected patients is growing with each passing day.
The company pioneering the race is Gilead Sciences, Inc. GILD, which has initiated two phase III studies to evaluate the safety and efficacy of remdesivir in adults diagnosed with COVID-19.
Novartis currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
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