Chirag and Chintu Patel, founders of the pharma company Amneal Pharmaceuticals. ( photo)

Amneal Pharmaceuticals, founded by Indian American entrepreneurs Chirag and Chintu Patel, said it is donating 400,000 hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets to the state of Louisiana to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. It already has donated millions of the tablets to New York and Texas.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, working with state Senate Health and Welfare chairman Fred Mills, announced the major donation by New Jersey-based Amneal Pharmaceuticals of the hydroxychloroquine tablets, which have been identified as a possible treatment for COVID-19 Coronavirus. The donation will go toward clinical trials and patient treatment in Louisiana, said an Amneal Pharmaceuticals press release.

"On behalf of Louisiana, I want to thank Amneal for this generous donation," said Landry. "It is important we all work together to help solve the COVID-19 Coronavirus crisis. We must come together as Louisianans and as Americans. This donation from Amneal demonstrates their strong effort to be a good corporate citizen in our nation."

He added: "I wish to remind everyone of the importance of social distancing guidelines issued by the president and state officials…Amneal's donation is one step toward trying to find treatments and cures for this epidemic. Right now, there are no silver bullets. We must remain vigilant against the spread of this virus."

Chirag and Chintu Patel, co-chief executive officers of Amneal, said, "All of us at Amneal are committed to supporting our communities in the global fight against COVID-19. We are working with urgency to assist the hardest hit states and hospitals around the country to benefit as many patients as possible during this critical time."

The Louisiana State University School of Medicine is working to launch two different clinical trials using hydroxychloroquine in relation to COVID-19. One trial will utilize hydroxychloroquine on those who have significant COVID-19 disease. The other trial protocol will use and test the drug as a preventative measure for those healthcare workers on the front lines battling the epidemic. Trials will be conducted at the University Medical Center in New Orleans and at the LSU Medical School locations in Baton Rouge and Lafayette.

"I sincerely appreciate the efforts of Attorney General Jeff Landry and Senator Fred Mills working with Amneal to bring this donation to the citizens of Louisiana," said Dr. Steve Nelson, dean of LSUHSC School of Medicine. "This donation will allow us to conduct clinical trials examining how hydroxychloroquine may help clear the virus from the lungs of infected patients and to potentially help shield healthcare workers who are on the front lines treating patients."

The National Institutes of Health is tracking other similar clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19. The University of Minnesota is undertaking a trial as well as Columbia University.

Having donated millions of hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets in total to states other than Louisiana, including New York and Texas, Amneal stated it will provide more as needed. The company also announced donations of products directly to hospitals across the country, according to the press release.

Hydroxychloroquine sulfate was first synthesized in 1946 and is in a class of medications historically used to treat and prevent malaria. Today, Amneal's hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration to treat malaria, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, childhood arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases. Hydroxychloroquine is not FDA-approved for the treatment of COVID-19; but it has been identified as a possible treatment for COVID-19, and the U.S. Government has requested its immediate availability, said the release.

The U.S. government's top infectious disease specialist Anthony Fauci has been vocal about his concern that there is not enough evidence to suggest that hydroxychloroquine is the drug that cures COVID-19.

In related news, India said it will be supplying hydroxychloroquine to some nations that have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic, such as the U.S.

Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Inc., headquartered in Bridgewater, New Jersey, is a pharmaceutical company focused on the development, manufacturing, and distribution of generic and specialty drug products.

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