1 million doses of anti-malaria drug heading to Florida for coronavirus patients

Posted at 2:48 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 15:49:25-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — One million doses of a drug used to treat malaria and lupus are being shipped to Florida to treat coronavirus patients.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Tuesday that Amneal Pharmaceuticals is sending a massive shipment of hydroxychloroquine to the state and it's expected to arrive on Wednesday.

"That will immediately be sent out to hospitals in Florida," the governor said.


In addition, Teva Pharmaceuticals is sending a shipment of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, an antibiotic commonly known as a Z-Pak, to Florida from India.

The combination of those two drugs has been used to treat many COVID-19 patients across Florida.

"I think we need to have every option that's available for these patients," said Dr. Sunil Kumar with Broward Health. "Some of these patients are very, very sick."

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Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients.

President Donald Trump said the drug is showing signs of promise and has been "safety tested."

However, health officials said it hasn't been fully vetted as a treatment for COVID-19 and does have side effects.

"Disturbances in the electrical rhythm of the heart, and sometimes these arrhythmias can be fatal," said Dr. Carlos Campo with Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. "I would not recommend just starting these as an outpatient because obviously patients cannot be monitored."

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According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, there are more than 14,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, along with 283 deaths.