NAY PYI TAW, Mar 31, 2020, Myanmar Times. The Myanmar Food and Drug Administration has warned people against using an anti-malaria drug and an antibiotic as a cure for the COVID-19 virus. The agency said on Sunday the anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, and azithromycin antibiotic could have dangerous side effects, Myanmar Times reported.
It said many people buy these two tablets in drugstores because of rumours they can treat the deadly pneumonia-like disease that has killed over 34,000 people around the world.
“Some people believe those two tablets can cure the COVID-19 virus,” said Daw Khin Chit, deputy director general of the FDA. “These drugs are not used as standard treatment. We advise the public not to use them because they are dangerous and have side effects.”
The agency said the two drugs should be taken only with a doctor’s prescription.
But a senior executive of the global pharmaceutical company Novartis, which makes hydroxychloroquine, said the drug is the best hope against COVID-19.
“Pre-clinical studies in animals as well as the first data from clinical studies show that hydroxychloroquine kills the coronavirus,” Vas Narasimhan, the company’s chief executive, told the Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung.
“We’re working with Swiss hospitals on possible treatment protocols for the clinical use of the drug, but it’s too early to say anything definitively,” he added.
Novartis has pledged to donate 130 million doses and is supporting clinical trials of the medicine so that it can be approved for use against COVID-19, according to the Reuters news agency.
Other companies, including Bayer and Teva, have also agreed to donate hydroxychloroquine or similar drugs, while Gilead Sciences is testing an experimental drug, remdesivir, against coronavirus, Reuters reported.
Myanmar has confirmed 10 COVID-19 cases, eight of them imported.
The country shut its doors to the world on Sunday, suspending international commercial flights and no longer issuing visas.