In a media availability Saturday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said that Israeli-sourced hydroxychloroquine could play a role in combatting coronavirus.
“If somebody tests positive, there haven’t been very many effective treatments,” DeSantis said.
The hope is that hydroxychloroquine, approved for treatment of arthritis, lupus, and malaria, works off label, as a “right to try” medicine for those without other medical recourse.
The Governor noted that it is being used in New York, and offered anecdotal evidence of a “Floridian in very bad shape” who “used it and it seemed to clear up the lungs and the virus.”
“I’m not a doctor. I’m not telling anyone to take it or not to take it,” DeSantis added. “This is just something that doctors may have at their disposal.”
The Governor said the drug would be sent to hotspots for COVID-19, including Dade, Broward, Hillsborough and Orange counties.
The Times of Israel reports that the initial donation to American hospitals will be 6 million pills.
“We are committed to helping to supply as many tablets as possible as demand for this treatment accelerates at no cost,” said Brendan O’Grady, Teva executive vice president, North America Commercial.
“Immediately upon learning of the potential benefit of hydroxychloroquine,” O’Grady said Teva “began to assess supply and to urgently acquire additional ingredients to make more product while arranging for all of what we had to be distributed immediately.”
DeSantis credited U.S. Ambassador David Friedman for helping to source the medicine from Teva Pharmaceuticals in Israel.
For DeSantis, the coronavirus crisis brought into play a relationship prized by the Governor, prioritized in 2019 with an Enterprise Florida trade mission to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Friedman, as the Tallahassee Democrat reported, said “Israel has no greater friend in all the 50 governor’s mansions than Ron DeSantis.”
The venue was the Ambassador’s Residence in Tel Aviv, where Gov. DeSantis was guest of honor at a dinner where top-shelf wine and food was served up, a veritable banquet feast.
The event was a capstone of a week in Israel, where DeSantis and Florida officials signed memoranda of understanding on issues ranging from academic partnerships to collaborations in space and emergency management.
Beyond the hydroxychloroquine haul, some good news on the Israel front on testing also.
DeSantis also divulged that DEM head Jared Moskowitz sourced 2,000 tests from an Israeli company, and those tests are headed to South Florida and Duval County.
The Governor says that added testing capability will be “game changing.”
Abbott Laboratories will also produce 50,000 rapid tests a day, and DeSantis said that Florida had put in on those too.