Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malaria drug that has not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat coronavirus. With anecdotal reports that the drug offers benefits against the virus, the FDA did issue a limited Emergency Use Authorization to distribute it from the national stockpile.

Previous guidance for doctors included dosages for hydroxychloroquine, even though the agency said the “optimal dosage and duration” to treat coronavirus is still unknown.

The updated guidance is shorter and no longer gives dosage information, details nor studies about the drug. Additional information about other drugs has been removed as well.

CNN has reached out to the CDC for a comment.

President Donald Trump has touted the drug as a possible treatment for the virus that has incited a pandemic. But experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have warned the administration that the drug is unproven and that there are dangers in promoting it before data backs up its efficacy.

States accruing doses

Though it has not yet proven safe for treating coronavirus, some states have gotten behind the drug and are gathering doses for their patients.

Pharmaceutical company Amneal has donated 200,000 doses of hydroxychloroquine to the Georgia Department of Public Health, US Rep. Doug Collins said Tuesday. He described the donation as a step toward treatment.

“Proud to have worked with Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Inc. to help secure 200,000 doses of hydroxychloroquine for @GaDPH! This medication could potentially save thousands of lives across our state. Thank you, Amneal, for this incredible donation!” Collins tweeted.

Florida is scheduled to receive a million doses of the drug Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said. DeSantis praised the drug, with the caveat that the virus is so new that there are no approved treatments yet.

Who benefits the most from it?

Under the Emergency Use Authorization, hydroxychloroquine can be administered to patients who are hospitalized and weigh at least 110 pounds.

But in a Facebook Live conversation with Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. Priscilla Chan on Tuesday, virologist and infectious disease specialist Dr. Don Ganem questioned if the drug would be more effective if given to patients with more mild symptoms.

“Even if it does work, is it the very sick person in the ICU the best person to be using that drug,” Ganem said.

By the time that patients are typically being transferred to the ICU, they are usually many days into the infection and viral replication is already trending down, Ganem said. It could be more effective, he reasoned, to treat patients earlier when their symptoms are mild and they are at the peak period of viral replication.

With so many lives at stake, Ganem said it makes sense to want to use every tool available, but he stressed the importance of doing clinical trials alongside use of the drug.

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