“Doctor, What Does ‘FDA-Approved Treatment’ Mean?”
By David Doolittle


Believe it or not, it’s been six months since reports first surfaced of coronavirus-related illnesses that we now know cause COVID-19. Seems like it’s been a lot longer than that.

Well, since then, you’ve probably had to explain to your patients a lot of terms they – or possibly you – had never heard before or had forgotten. Not the least of which are “novel coronavirus” and what COVID-19 stands for (full disclosure: I had to refresh my memory on what COVID-19 means while writing this).

It gets particularly confusing when discussing which medications could prevent or treat COVID-19 and the coronavirus that causes it.

Clinical trials are under way for some medications, while other existing drugs are being tested to see whether they are safe and effective in treating the disease. To do so, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sometimes has made drugs available through its Expanded Access Program, or under an Emergency Use Authorization.

But what do those and other related terms like “investigational treatments” mean?

Well, FDA recently published a story on its website that answers questions like that. It’s a thorough resource you can post on your social media pages or send to patients during office or telemedicine visits.

Here’s a preview:

“Currently, expanded access is one pathway for use of COVID-19 convalescent plasma for patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 disease who are not eligible for or who are unable to participate in randomized clinical trials.”

In addition, Yale Medical in April published a glossary of basic COVID-19 terms that you also can share. We’re talking about terms like “asymptomatic,” “incubation period,” “N95 respirator,” and “ventilator” – terms you understand, but your patients might not.

And, of course, the Texas Medical Association’s COVID-19 Resource Center is regularly updated with information, news, and the latest TMA materials to help you, your staff, and your patients better understand how to prevent and treat COVID-19.

Last Updated On

June 15, 2020

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David Doolittle


(512) 370-1385

Dave Doolittle is editor of Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. Dave grew up in Austin, where he attended culinary school as well as the University of Texas. He spent years covering Central Texas for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. He is the father of two girls, a proud Longhorn, and an avid motorsports fan.

More stories by David Doolittle