- The Washington Times - Monday, April 6, 2020

NEW ORLEANS — A second pharmaceutical company promised more coronavirus-fighting drugs Monday to hard-hit Louisiana as the state’s death toll attributed to the virus rose to 512.

Teva Pharmaceuticals will donate 8,000 packs of azithromycin and 75,000 tablets of hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Attorney General Jeff Landry announced Monday at a Baton Rouge press conference.

That donation comes on top of one last week from Amneal Pharmaceuticals, which pledged 400,000 hydroxychloroquine tablets.

A drug cocktail with hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic has shown tremendous promise in scattered trials around the world since COVID-19 first infected humans in Wuhan, China, last year. While the drug, primarily used to fight malaria, has not been officially approved for coronavirus, ongoing reports of successful outcomes has piqued the interest of leaders like President Trump, who has repeatedly touted the drug as a potential game-changer.

Even at the White House, though, there is disagreement. In fact, reports surfaced Monday that at a White House task force meeting on the subject, one participant exploded at Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the point physicians on the national response, who has been skeptical of the drug’s efficacy.

But in states like Michigan, where the Democratic governor at first refused the drug, officials are now asking the federal government to provide hydroxychloroquine.

The coronavirus has proved more lethal in New Orleans, a nearby parish and New York state than anywhere else in the U.S., according to a recent study from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. Both Louisiana areas have been among the worst hit, with experts attributing part of New Orleans’ problem to its annual Mardi Grad celebration, which this year fell on Feb. 25.

More than half of all the cases and deaths in Louisiana have been concentrated in New Orleans and adjoining Jefferson Parish, according to figures compiled by the Louisiana Department of Health.

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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