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France: Sanofi offers potential drug to beat COVID-19

Pharmaceutical giant tests anti-malarial drug against coronavirus, discusses development with French authorities

Cindi Cook   | 18.03.2020
France: Sanofi offers potential drug to beat COVID-19 File Photo

PARIS

French pharmaceutical company Sanofi said on Wednesday that it is ready to offer the French authorities the anti-malarial drug in the fight against the new coronavirus killing thousands worldwide.

In a recent clinical trial, the Plaquenil drug was tested on 24 patients, and after six days, the virus had disappeared in three quarters of them.

The trial was carried out by Professor Didier Raoult, director of IHU Mediterranee Infection, a research institute based in Marseille.

Sanofi said they are in possession of several million doses, enough to treat 300,000 people infected with COVID-19.

"Sanofi is committed to making its treatment available to France," a company spokesperson said in a statement to the press.

The institute published several papers through their medical journals over the last two weeks about the effectiveness of Plaquenil, a hydroxychloroquine molecule which is and has been used for decades to treat various diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Health Minister Olivier Veran said that tests must be carried out on a larger number of patients to verify results.

"I took note of the results and I gave the authorization so that a larger trial by other teams can be initiated as soon as possible," he said.

In a press conference on Monday, government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye contributed to the development by saying that the testing would now be "carried out with a team independent of Professor Raoult."

She acknowledged that the further results would need to be produced in order to conclude that Plaquenil could prove an effective treatment.

According to the latest figures from the French Health Ministry, 7,730 cases have been reported across the country and the death toll stands at 175.

Worldwide, out of over 204,000 confirmed cases, the death toll now hit 8,250, while more than 82,500 patients have recovered, according to Worldometer, a statistics website that compiles new case numbers.

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