By Andrew Restuccia and Thomas M. Burton 

WASHINGTON -- President Trump said on Thursday that he is directing the Food and Drug Administration to eliminate red tape to more quickly develop therapies to help patients diagnosed with the coronavirus.

"Nothing will stand in our way as we pursue any avenue to find what best works against this horrible virus," Mr. Trump told reporters at a Thursday White House news conference.

Mr. Trump said the administration is looking into whether using drugs that treat conditions like malaria and arthritis can be used to treat coronavirus.

"If things don't go as planned, it's not going to kill anybody," he said.

Mr. Trump specifically touted drug company Gilead Sciences Inc., which produces the investigational antiviral drug remdesivir. He also pointed to other drugs, including Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine, which are used to treat malaria.

"FDA's responsibility to the American people is to ensure that products are safe and effective and we are continuing to do that," FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said during the news conference.

"We are looking at everything that's coming across our desks as possible treatment options for the coronavirus," Dr. Hahn said.

Dr. Hahn said Mr. Trump had directed FDA to test Chloroquine, adding that the agency wants a "large, pragmatic clinical trial" to test possible benefits of the drug for treating coronavirus.

He added that a vaccine for coronavirus is likely about 12 months away.

Write to Andrew Restuccia at Andrew.Restuccia@wsj.com and Thomas M. Burton at tom.burton@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 19, 2020 12:48 ET (16:48 GMT)

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