Boucherville-based JAMP Pharma is donating one million doses of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to hospitals across Canada in the fight against COVID-19.
The drug was designed to treat malaria and patients with certain autoimmune diseases, but is now considered a possible treatment for COVID-19 patients with moderate to severe respiratory distress.
“We’re certainly not trying to suggest it’s a miracle drug,” said managing director for Orimed Pharma and JAMP Group Biosimilars Bruno Mader, since HCQ hasn’t yet been approved by Health Canada for this use. One preliminary study of HCQ in patients who have contracted the virus is considered promising in the fight against COVID-19.
“We have product and we decided that we’d make a contribution to the effort,” said Mader. The company started the process to ship the doses to hospitals across Canada on Monday. Patients who currently use HCQ for other ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are told they won’t be affected. “We’re considered an essential service,” said Mader. “We still have teams producing and distributing.”
Quebec’s health and social services ministry did not put out a specific request for the medication, but according to JAMP Pharma, some Canadian hospitals have warned of a possible shortage of HCQ. “I can tell you it’s a top priority for hospitals,” said Mader.