President Donald Trump said he has asked the FDA to investigate whether certain therapeutic drugs currently used for other purposes might hold potential to treat those suffering with COVID-19.
Speaking at a White House briefing on the spread of the virus, Mr Trump said medical professionals believe the anti-malaria drug chloroquine could be a treatment for the coronavirus.
Chloroquine is widely available now and could be used off-label, but officials want a formal study to get good information on safety and effectiveness.
“The nice part is it’s been around for a long time, so we know that if things don’t go as planned, it’s not going to kill anybody,” Mr Trump said.
There are currently no known treatments for the COVID-19 virus and officials have said a vaccine could take up to 12-18 months.
At the same briefing, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn said he didn’t want to provide false hope that chloroquine or other drugs could be an effective treatment.
“I think it could be a game changer. And maybe not,” Mr Trump said.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough.
For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.