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Anti-malaria drugs available at several Maine hospitals for potential COVID19 treatment

Earlier this week the FDA approved the limited emergency use of two malaria drugs

PORTLAND, Maine — Editor's note: You are hearing the term 'flattening the curve' as a way to stem the tide of coronavirus cases. The above video explains what that means.

Drugs approved for other diseases have shown some promise in treating the COVID-19, coronavirus. Several hospitals in Maine already have supplies of the medications and not expected to draw on federal supplies.

Hospital systems from York to Bangor tell us they have malaria drugs on hand. Central Maine Health officials in Lewiston say hospitalized patients can receive the medication as long as they provide consent. But despite some promising evidence many for decades hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have been used to treat malaria.

But new evidence suggests they could also help fight COVID-19 and can now be used to treat critical patients outside of clinical trials.  The medications are normally prescribed for autoimmune conditions like lupus and for rheumatoid arthritis. 

Research has found the drug can block the replication of viruses like COVID-19 in lab settings. 

Social Distancing Video

Dr. Megan May is an associate professor of microbiology and infectious disease at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. She says the drug could be given to slow down the infection. She says the drugs are effective getting into getting the bloodstream to treat malaria, but not enough is known about being absorbed into lung tissue and the nose.  She also says there is not enough scientific proof that these medications are effective against the coronavirus.

MAINE HOSPITAL RESPONSE

'Does this drug when it's metabolized get to those places? I don't know if anyone knows that because we have been so focused on how do they get to the bloodstream because that's what they are designed for,' said Dr. May.

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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