Press review

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Italy sees anti-malaria drug chloroquine as potentially effective treatment for Covid-19

Country : Italy, China

Keywords :
FLORENCE, 20 Mar (APM) - Chloroquine is the latest drug to be seen in Italy as a potentially effective treatment for Covid-19 patients, La Repubblica reported on Wednesday.
The anti-malaria therapy has been used in China, where there were 20 studies on 100 people and in South Korea. Now the first European studies are taking place, the paper said.
This week, medicines agency AIFA approved exceptional reimbursement of several drugs and combinations to treat Covid-19 patients including chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine (APMHE 66617).
Didier Raoult, director of Marseille's university hospital institute, Méditerranée Infection, has presented the results of a study of 24 patients undergoing treatment which have been sent for publication in the scientific journal International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, the paper said.
La Repubblica noted that the Covid-19 viral load persists for 20 days so that almost all patients who die from the virus still have it active in their body. Whereas, according to the study, 75% of patients treated with Plaquenil, a hydroxychloroquine-based drug, had a negative viral load after six days of treatment.
Patients treated with hydroxychloroquine in combination with azithromycin, an antibiotic used to treat bacterial pneumonia, were cured in a week, La Repubblica said.
Raoult noted there are problems with interaction with other treatments. But he said the side effects could be controlled and may be linked to dosing.

Italy's R&D focus on chloroquine, Gilead's remdesivir, Roche's RoActemra

Chloroquine is one three drugs which are being tested in Italy to treat Covid-19 patients, according to Tuesday's La Stampa.
The other two are Gilead's remdesivir and Roche's RoActemra (tocilizumab). Laboratories throughout Italy are conducting research to understand which drug, or a combination of drugs, can help cure people with coronavirus, the paper said.
The first positive sign came a few days ago when a Covid-19 patient in Naples showed significant improvement after being treated with tocilizumab. It is used not only to treat rheumatic arthritis but also to counter inflammation in cancer patient treated with CAR-T therapy, La Stampa explained.
Roche announced recently that it can supply tocilizumab to all regions for the entire emergency period without putting at risk stocks of the drug used for the primary indication.
La Stampa reported that Antonio Mattinzoli, a member of the Lombardy regional council who tested positive to coronavirus at the beginning of March, has been treated with tocilizumab.
He was in intensive care after his condition deteriorated. But after treatment with the drug he has shown rapid and marked improvement, the paper reported Lombardy health assessor Giulio Gallera as saying.

Specialists in dispute over who used tocilizumab first in Italy for Covid-19

Specialists are in dispute over who was the first to use tolicizumab in Italy to treat Covid-19 patients, La Repubblica reports on Friday.
Paolo Ascierto, head of the melanoma and innovative therapies unit at the Naples Fondazione Pascale oncology clinic, maintains that it was the result of a collaboration between Chinese and Italian doctors.
They applied to medicines agency AIFA to test the drug for treating pulmonary inflammation in Covid-19 patients. The regulator cleared the schedule and the first patients were treated in Naples, Modena and Rome - according to Ascierto.
But Massimo Galli, head of the infectious diseases department at Milan's Sacco hospital, disagreed.
He told a current affairs discussion programme on Tuesday that one of his colleagues in Bergamo was the first to use it to treat Covid-19 patients. He suggested it was a question of "rendering to Caesar what is Caesar's and rendering to the Chinese what is the Chinese's".
According to the paper, Galli's comments sparked extensive debate on social media which has since broadened into a north vs. south battle.

Lombardy wants increased curbs, army in streets as emergency deepens

Lombardy's governor has called for restrictions on movement to be tightened and a military presence on the streets in Milan as the emergency deepens, La Repubblica reports on Friday.
Attilio Fontana warned prime minister Giuseppe Conte on Thursday that too many people are ignoring the rules, with 52,000 Italians now said to have been reported to the authorities for infractions.
In addition to using the army, Fontana wants all professional offices to be closed, only essential public offices to kept open and further limitations on commercial activity.
The latest bulletin for the civil protection department showed the number of deaths in Italy, which rose to 3,405 on Thursday, has now overtaken those in China where they have had 3,245. More worrying for Lombardy is a spike in the number of cases in Milan.
Fontana said he has tried to impress on the prime minister the seriousness of the situation in his region. He is now waiting to see what the government decides.
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