Coronavirus: An Active Substance From Bayer Could Help


The coronavirus continues to dominate our daily lives. Around the world, pharmaceutical and biotech companies are working intensively on active substances that treat people with COVID-19. One of those substances is Resochin by Bayer.

Developed in the 1930s in Elberfeld, chloroquine was used in the prevention of malaria for decades under the name Resochin. As numerous malaria parasites had developed a resistance against the drug, Bayer discontinued the sale of the product last summer. Now – in the middle of the corona crisis – the company has ramped up production of the product.

Resochin showed good effects against the first SARS virus in 2003; its efficacy against the coronavirus is currently being investigated in several clinical trials in China. The Chinese authorities have already included it in the catalogue of potentially helpful products.

Doctors consider it a promising treatment for seriously ill coronavirus patients. “In a so-called in vitro study conducted in cell cultures, researchers in China were able to demonstrate that Resochin inhibits the reproduction of the virus,” explains Dr. Martin Springsklee, Head of Global Medical Affairs Anti-infectives at Bayer. “The mode of action hasn’t been fully clarified, but it is assumed that Resochin both increases the pH value in the cells and alters the docking sites of the virus, making it more difficult for the pathogen to infect the epithelial cells of the airways. However, we are still awaiting the results of the clinical studies.”

Following the example of the Chinese, other governments have since also approached Bayer about Resochin. For example, the company is currently in talks with the German Federal Ministry of Health over importing the active substance to Germany. Discussions are currently focused on investigating chloroquine in clinical use in SARS-CoV-2 patients in Berlin as part of a collaboration with the Charité Hospital.

Update March 19, 2020, 7.00 PM CET:
Bayer is joining the U.S. Government's fight against COVID-19 with a donation of 3 million tablets of the drug Resochin. See more here.