Health

Pressure for Coronavirus Treatment May Affect Drug Approvals

Image; New York times

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to accelerate causing more and more cases every day regardless of its control in some of the countries that have also managed to lift the restrictions and reopen offices, schools, and businesses after staying in lockdown for almost three months.

According to the health experts and researchers, even though a lot of progress appears to have been made on the coronavirus pandemic, it is far from being controlled. In fact, the World Health Organization stated that it may take up to a year for the virus to be fully contained.

Even though there are high hopes for the development of a vaccine by the end of the year, the medical community has warned that relying on a vaccine along cannot put an end to the health crisis. Even with a vaccine, people would most likely have to follow the guidelines for the prevention of the coronavirus infection.

Preventive measures such as social distancing and limitations may still be needed for months in order to stop the further spread and new cases of COVID-19. Till now, only around three to four percent of the world’s population has been affected by the coronavirus, which shows there is still a long way to go for herd immunity to develop as well as the need for developing alternative coronavirus treatment till a vaccine is finalized and launched in the market.

While a vaccine is far away, many clinical trials and scientists are also exploring the benefits of a few medicines for the coronavirus infection. For instance, at the start of the month of March, the anti-malarial drugs including both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine were assumed to be the ultimate miraculous drugs for the treatment of COVID-19.

However, later it was discovered that both of the drugs offered no benefits for coronavirus patients and are not exactly the ideal treatment for coronavirus even if they slightly improved the infection since their negative effects greatly outweighed their harmful effects.

In some of the clinical trials testing hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for coronavirus infection, the researchers noted that some of the patients who received a high dosage of the drugs developed heart-related issues such as arrhythmia or an abnormal heartbeat.

Read also: Loneliness in Coronavirus Pandemic Is Severely Harmful to Mental Health 

Due to such side effects, a large trial in Brazil was reportedly called off. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the FDA granted emergency use authorization to both hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine phosphate on the twenty-eight of March regardless of the adverse effects associated with the drugs.

Usually, most drugs receive approval and authorization from the FDA in eight years on average but the latest decision seemed to have taken much less time as the coronavirus pandemic has continued to worsen, thereby leaving no time for the typical testing procedures to take place.

This, in turn, can also make it difficult for the FDA to review and grant approval to treatments and drugs the way it usually does.

In addition to this event, many countries had also imported the anti-malarial drugs to be used for coronavirus patients at the beginning of clinical trials on the drug, including Brazil, which has also announced that it will continue to use the drugs for coronavirus treatment regardless of the safety concerns and warnings from the medical community.

Events such as these show that making the speed of developing a coronavirus treatment the first priority can do more harm than good especially during a pandemic where certain drugs can even worsen the widespread infection as well as lead to unwanted consequences and increased challenges for health care workers.

About the author

Abeera I. Kazmi

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