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Novartis to Start Large, Randomized Trial of Hydroxychloroquine in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients

Novartis has reached an agreement with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to proceed with a Phase III clinical trial with approximately 440 patients to evaluate the use of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 disease.

The clinical trial drug supply will be provided by Sandoz, the generics and biosimilars division of Novartis.

Patients in the trial will be randomized into three groups. The first group or arm will receive hydroxychloroquine. The second group will receive hydroxychloroquine in combination with azithromycin, which is an antibiotic therapy. The third group will receive placebo. Patients in all treatment groups are receiving standard of care for COVID-19.

Researchers at the company compressed months of work into a few weeks to design the large clinical trial in order to rapidly respond to the need for COVID-19 disease treatments.

“We recognize the importance of answering the scientific question of whether hydroxychloroquine will be beneficial for patients with COVID-19 disease,” said John Tsai, Head of Global Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer at Novartis. “We mobilized quickly to address this question in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.”

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