Story at a glance

  • President Trump on Sunday called the treatment a “historic breakthrough."
  • Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the treatment met the standard for an emergency use approval in the setting of a public health emergency.
  • “I think that this could be beneficial. It might be weakly beneficial. It doesn’t look like a home run, but right now we're looking for singles and doubles,” Gottlieb told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

The former head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday said the convalescent plasma treatment granted emergency use by the Trump administration may provide a benefit to coronavirus patients, but cautioned that the treatment doesn’t look like a “home run.” 

President Trump on Sunday announced that the FDA authorized convalescent plasma for emergency use to expand access to the treatment to COVID-19 patients, calling it a “historic breakthrough.”


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The treatment involves taking the portion of the blood from recovered coronavirus patients that contains antibodies developed in response to an infection and giving it to patients currently battling the virus. Convalescent plasma has already been used to treat roughly 70,000 Americans who contracted coronavirus. 

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the treatment met the standard for an emergency use approval in the setting of a public health emergency. 

“It’s reasonable to conclude that this may provide a benefit to patients who are suffering from COVID,” Gottlieb told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Monday. 

“I think that this could be beneficial. It might be weakly beneficial. It doesn’t look like a home run, but right now we're looking for singles and doubles. There aren’t really going to be any home runs on the horizon until we can get the other therapeutic antibodies on the market and hopefully eventually vaccines and better therapeutics,” Gottlieb said. 

There are no formally approved drugs or vaccines for the coronavirus at this time. 

The announcement Sunday came after Trump attacked the FDA, accusing the “deep state” in the agency of impeding the development of treatments and vaccines before the November election. Hahn, however, said the decision was made in the “independent judgment” of experts and scientists at FDA.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) Monday said evidence the treatment works remains “low quality,” noting that only a few clinical trials of convalescent plasma have produced results. 

“We recommend that convalescent plasma is still an experimental therapy, it should continue to be evaluated in well-designed randomized clinical trials,” Soumya Swaminathan, WHO chief scientist, said during a Geneva news conference.


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Published on Aug 24, 2020