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Malaysia will conduct a study on three types of drugs to treat Covid-19 patients following large-scale international trials announced by the World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said Malaysia was selected to carry out the research and hoped to help WHO to obtain data on the effectiveness of three new drugs namely artesunate, imatinib and infliximab.
“We hope we can help WHO to obtain the data, and we have enough patients to conduct the study,” he told a press conference on the development of Covid-19 today.
Also present were Health Minister Dr Adham Baba, the ministry’s secretary-general Mohd Shafiq Abdullah, deputy Health director-general Dr Chong Chee Kheong, Selangor Health Department director Dr Sha’ari Ngadiman.
Noor Hisham said artesunate is used for the treatment of severe malaria; imatinib, a drug for certain cancers (blood cancer and leukaemia); and infliximab, a treatment for immune system disorders such as Crohn’s Disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
"These three drugs have anti-viral effects. We want to study and see the effectiveness of these drugs to treat Covid-19 patients,” he added.
Noor Hisham said Malaysia was previously selected by WHO for a solidarity test to research four types of medicine namely Remdesivir, Hydroxychloroquine, Lopinavir and Interferon.
However, he said the research trial results were obtained in October last year, and the initial results showed that they had little or no effect on hospitalised patients with Covid-19.
“For example, during the second wave, we used a lot of Hydroxychloroquine and Lopinavir, but the study proved that these drugs are not effective, and we have stopped using them,” he added.
Noor Hisham said the test study on the use of three new drugs involved thousands of volunteer patients in 600 hospitals in 52 countries, which would further reassure and strengthen whether the use of the drugs was effective or otherwise.
Yesterday, WHO announced international trials on three new drugs to determine whether they can be used to treat Covid-19 patients in hospitals.
WHO said the drugs were selected by an independent panel of experts to see their potential in reducing the risks of death of the hospitalised Covid-19 patients.