The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday cited “extreme urgency” in clearing U.S. pharmaceutical distributors from legal hurdles in order to provide the controversial anti-malaria drug to coronavirus patients.

The Justice Department penned a response letter Monday notifying one of the country’s largest wholesale drug distribution companies, AmerisourceBergen, that antitrust hurdles have been removed as part of an “expedited, temporary review procedure.” The DOJ letter dated April 20 says the drug corporation is now set to work with federal government agencies and health care providers to distribute hydroxychloroquine to patients with coronavirus symptoms. The anti-malaria drug has been controversially touted by President Donald Trump as a “treatment” for COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, despite reports from organizations including the American Heart Association that the medication exacerbates fatal heart problems and has not faced U.S. clinical trials.

But the Monday DOJ letter indicates the drug’s distribution is now being fast-tracked and allows AmerisourceBergen, which was sued in 2017 for allegedly worsening the opioid drug crisis, to temporarily “act as the U.S. Government’s hydroxychloroquine distribution agents” without legal concern over antitrust violations as they address supply chain shortages.

“One initiative is the distribution of hydroxychloroquine from the Stockpile to health care providers in areas of greatest need,” reads the Justice Department letter from Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim. “In this distribution initiative, AmerisourceBergen and other distributors act as the U.S. Government’s distribution agents. The U.S. Government will instruct AmerisourceBergen on the amount of hydroxychloroquine it will receive and where the hydroxychloroquine is to be sent.”

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Read the original Department of Justice letter here:

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