TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): So just how optimistic should we be about this and why would a drug created to treat malaria be so effective against a completely different illness. Dr. Mihael Polymeropoulos is CEO of Vanda Pharmaceuticals and he joins us tonight. Doctor, thanks so much for coming on tonight. This is for -- even for people who are paying attention a little bit out of the blue, non-doctors, most people haven't heard of this drug. Tell us what it does and why it might beat coronavirus.
DR. MIHAEL POLYMEROPOULOS (CEO, VANDA PHARMACEUTICALS): Thank you very much, Tucker, for having me on. And the president is right, that we need to pay attention to chloroquine and the work that is being done around the world and the adoption of guidelines for the treatment of the COVID-19 infection. As you said, chloroquine is an older drug. It was discovered actually in 1934 in Germany and used to treat successfully malaria for all this time. What we know about this drug is substantial evidence over the last 10 years that it can indeed attack coronaviruses, and that includes the SARS virus, the MERS virus -- the Middle East Respiratory Syncytial virus and now COVID-19. And most recently work that started in China in publications with clinical trials and patients saw that chloroquine can have a significant place in the treatment of patients with the coronavirus. And the way it works, the coronavirus is a virus, it's not the parasite that causes malaria. But the way this drug works, it appears that it interferes first with the entry of the virus into the human cell and then interferes with the machinery that allows the virus to replicate. So you can see why there can be a lot of excitement that it can be an effect therapeutic and it could be a prophylactic agent as well.
CARLSON: So this drug has been described as inexpensive and common. Is it being used in every American hospital to treat flu patients?
POLYMEROPOULOS: Absolutely, it is not. And a big gap is that in the U.S., unlike China, Japan, South Korea, Poland, Belgium, Italy, we do not have recommended guidelines. So what we saw today is the patient leading in bringing this to the forefront of the United States. But what we see is that it is not enough. What doctors who are currently fighting for patients' lives in hospitals, ICUs, clinics, emergency rooms, what they need is guidelines. Whom to treat, with how much, for how long? And that is not available in the U.S. yet.
CARLSON: I know someone personally who is receiving it in a hospital in New York, so I know it is being used maybe on some limited scale. Why would it be hard to take the guidelines currently in use in Poland and Spain as you said and apply those here?
POLYMEROPOULOS: Yes, absolutely, we can. It just takes leadership. Because at the same time, the individual doctors, the individual hospitals are not free to make their own decisions whether it is going to be on the formulary. And of course, there is a significant liability if they do something outside of what is allowed by the FDA. So a step that can cure all of that is what Poland did, introduced on the label of chloroquine in that country the indication of the treatment of COVID-19. And we hear the FDA that they may want more data. But again, there has to be a balance. And once everybody understands that we don't know if this is going to be the ultimate cure, but when we have patients in the hospitals of all ages, dying with a catastrophic pneumonia, and we do not have any other option, chloroquine looks pretty good. And especially because if the safety profile is understood, it is mild, and especially for the short-term years, it should be fine.
CARLSON: Europe has fewer lawyers than we do. That may be the real answer. Once again, the trial bar kills Americans. Doctor, thanks so much for coming on and for explaining that. It's amazing and amazingly promising it sounds like. Thank you.