GENEVA

The Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis said Monday it has reached an agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to proceed with a Phase III clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 disease.

“Trial is designed and implemented quickly to address the need for science-based investigation following early preclinical and clinical evidence1,2,3 that hydroxychloroquine may help hospitalized patients with COVID-19 disease,” Novartis said in a statement.

Hydroxychloroquine is an antimalarial drug currently studied by experts as a possible treatment of COVID-19.

The announcement came amid a massive effort to develop a vaccine for coronavirus in Switzerland,

Read more: Novartis to start antimalarial drug trials on COVID-19