March 27, 2020 / 7:54 PM / 2 months ago

Sun Pharma's U.S. unit donates malaria drug in coronavirus fight

FILE PHOTO: A bird flies past the logo of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. installed on the facade of its corporate office in Mumbai, India, May 25, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

(Reuters) - Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd’s U.S. subsidiary said on Friday it had donated 2.5 million hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets as a potential treatment for the rapidly spreading coronavirus.

Hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets are used for the treatment of malaria, lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis, among others.

The tablet is not currently approved for use to treat COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, but is currently under investigation as a possible treatment option.

U.S. President Donald Trump last week touted the malaria drugs, and the country’s Health and Human Services has listed the drug as a medical resource subject to hoarding prevention measures.

This comes as hospitals in several big U.S. cities and other hot virus spots sounded the alarm about a shortage of medicine, supplies and trained staff as the cases rose to over 85,000. Over a thousand have died from the disease.

Several drugmakers, including Novartis, Bayer AG and Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd, have also donated doses of malaria drugs.

“We are working with supply chain partners and wholesalers to help ensure swift delivery to areas where it will provide the most benefit as the clinical trials progress,” said Abhay Gandhi, CEO of the U.S. unit of India’s Sun Pharma.

Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Sriraj Kalluvila

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