FDA Fast Tracks COVID-19 Testing

Matt Bigler
April 03, 2020 - 9:11 am

As state and federal officials continue to say they are ramping up their testing capacity for COVID-19, the big question remains about when a treatment will be developed for the virus. 

Normally the FDA reviews many different drugs for many different diseases, but this week the federal agency announced that it would loosen restrictions for COVID-19 drugs and all other medicines would be moved to the back of the line.

“To the extent that those have all been pushed on to the back burner and COVID-19 has been prioritized, I think it helps a lot as we deal with this pandemic,” said UCSF's Dr. George Rutherford.

Rutherorford cautions that this does not mean that the actual human testing should be rushed. That would be counterproductive, he said. 

One of those drugs is for hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial medicine that has shown some promise in treating COVID-19, but Rutherford says more data is still needed.

“If there are harms, what kinds of harms are they?” said Rutherford. “What are the harms relative to the benefits?”