To accelerate the discovery of essential new treatments, the U.S. government needs to commit to supporting and coordinating the research. I am encouraged by President Biden’s recent executive order calling for more large-scale randomized clinical trials and further studies on the most promising treatments to date. Federal government oversight is required to properly assess the risks and benefits of current EUA treatments individually and in combination because often these drugs are used together.

Support is also required for using other available FDA-approved off-the-shelf drugs that might help prevent hospitalizations, as in the recent findings indicating colchicine, a common gout medication, prevents COVID-19 hospitalizations. At the Feinstein Institutes, we are also studying the use of famotidine, the common antacid Pepcid, in outpatients to assess whether it may also reduce the need for hospitalization. Without properly supported research, the world will not learn whether such treatments or useful or not.

President Biden should also organize an advisory panel to coordinate these clinical trial efforts and share results from outcomes and best practices. Because it is in the interest of national security, such as coordination and prioritization of clinical trials cannot be left to the profit-driven pharmaceutical industry. Consider that famotidine and colchicine are off-patent and have been labelled as generics for many years. But what if they prove to be effective and safe, as well as cheap? Even if such news won’t result in big profits or move the stock price, the world should know.

Understandably and properly enough, it is a national priority to vaccinate the populace. But not at the expense of ignoring patients who will continue to become ill and need new lifesaving treatments. We are making steady progress but must significantly enhance support for research and for national coordination of clinical trial efforts.