This week witnessed surges in studies, clinical trials, possible treatment candidates, and FDA authorization of treatments for the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID). As confirmed case numbers approach their peak in the United States, the health system response to the virus has been on high alert.
Here’s a roundup of the latest coronavirus-related news:
Last week, in a letter to Vice President Pence, ASHP Chief Executive Officer Paul W. Abramowitz, PharmD, requested that the Administration initiate significant increases in manufacturing of supportive medications critical to ventilating and treating patients with severe COVID-19.
In the letter, Abramowitz explained that, although ASHP is grateful for the action the Administration has taken to provide hospitals with necessary personal protective equipment and ventilators, they “will be rendered useless without an adequate supply of the medications…that must administered concomitantly with mechanical ventilation in critically ill patients…to ensure the successful use of this life-saving supportive care.”
The CDC has provided the updated reports of population-based COVID-19-associated hospitalizations between March 1-28, and clinical data on admitted patients between March 1-30, in 99 counties and 14 states.
The study, which was published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, stresses the importance of continuing to follow social distancing, respiratory hygiene, and face covering strategies in order to flatten the curve.
The CDC report contends that hospitalization rates increase with age and are highest among older adults. Additionally, the majority of those hospitalized for COVID-19 infection have at least 1 underlying condition.
Children with COVID-19 may not develop a fever or cough as often as adults with the virus, according to a new preliminary findings published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Previous data have suggested that pediatric COVID-19 cases are typically less severe than cases seen in adults, and that children may present with different symptoms.
A coalition of national and local pharmacy organizations is praising the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) decision to allow licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests during the new coronavirus disease pandemic.
“Pharmacists, in partnership with other healthcare providers, are well positioned to aid COVID-19 testing expansion. Pharmacists are trusted healthcare professionals with established relationships with their patients,” HHS said in an April 8 guidance. "The vast majority of Americans live close to a retail or independent community-based pharmacy. That proximity reduces travel to testing locations, which is an important mitigation measure.”
“The accessibility and distribution of retail and independent community-based pharmacies make pharmacists the first point of contact with a healthcare professional for many Americans,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett P. Giroir, MD, in a press release. “This will further expand testing for Americans, particularly our healthcare workers and first responders who are working around the clock to provide care, compassion and safety to others.”
Officials with the FDA issued a warning letter to a company marketing fraudulent and dangerous chlorine dioxide products for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, according to a press release.
The product, known as “Miracle Mineral Solution,” is being sold online and marketed as a medical treatment, despite having no scientific evidence supporting the safety and efficacy of its use. The FDA has previously issued a warning to consumers urging them to stop drinking such chlorine dioxide products after receiving reports of the products making people sick.
The FDA has approved the first generic version of a commonly used albuterol sulfate inhaler. Albuterol sulfate (Proventil HFA) metered dose inhaler, 90 mcg/inhalation, is indicated to treat or prevent bronchospasms for patients 4 years of age and older with reversible obstructive airway disease and/or exercise-induced bronchospasm, according to a press release.
The announcement follows recent reports across the country identifying shortages of albuterol inhalers in hospitals due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of COVID-19 there has been increased allocation of albuterol inhalers for patients with or suspected to have COVID-19 infection due to concerns that nebulizers may help spread the virus in the air in hospitals.