Chloroquine maker under 24-hour security; Drug used to treat some Covid-19 patients

Dutch police car
Stock photo of a Dutch police vehicle. April 8, 2019jomahepu@gmail.comDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

A drug manufacturer from Zeewolde was placed under 24-hour police security on Saturday. Jan Willem Popma's company Ace makes chloroquine, an old malaria medicine that had a positive effect on a number of Covid-19 patients. Now Popma is getting increasing visits from "vague types", not only at work but also at his home, he said to EenVandaag.

"Last week several expensive cars came up my street that you normally never see here, with striking young drivers who knocked on my door. They offered large amounts for the pills, but I have already distributed my entire supply across the country. All the pills we produced are distributed the same day," Popma said to EenVandaag.

For Popma's protection, the police put him under 24-hour surveillance on Saturday. Police are also keeping an eye on his company in Zeewolde. 

There have been no real scientific studies into the effect of chloroquine on Covid-19 patients, but experiments were carried out on 100 people in China. About 70 of them responded favorably to the medicine, becoming less ill than people who did not get it, according to NOS. The medicine was tested on 25 people in France, with similar effect.

Ace produces small quantities of specialist medicines for small and vulnerable groups of patients. These are often old medicines that other manufacturers no longer make. In the Netherlands, a few hundred people use chloroquine for their rheumatism. 

Since the tests in China and France, it is being investigated whether the drug can be used on a large scale. Dutch public health institute RIVM recently recommended the use of chloroquine for seriously ill coronavirus patients.