With drugmakers scouring their portfolios for possible COVID-19 therapeutics, meds approved years ago are now being viewed with fresh eyes. That’s the case for Merck KGaA’s aging multiple sclerosis med Rebif, which French researchers are now hoping could help ease symptoms caused by the novel coronavirus.
Merck KGaA has donated samples of Rebif to France’s Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale for use in a trial evaluating the drug’s effect on COVID-19 patients, the drugmaker said Thursday.
Rebif, an anti-inflammatory the FDA originally approved to treat relapsing MS back in 2002, is the first MS med known to be evaluated as a treatment for COVID-19.
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“As Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is a company that is dedicated to human progress and to making a lasting difference on patients’ lives, we are fully committed to contributing to solutions related to global health crises such as COVID-19,” the company said in a statement.
On Thursday, Bayer confirmed it was donating 3 million tablets of chloroquine, a decades-old drug that’s long gone generic, to the U.S. as a possible therapeutic for COVID-19. Chloroquine isn’t approved to treat patients suffering from novel coronavirus infections, but some early studies have shown promise.
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