Friday, 05 June, 2020


Hydroxychloroquine linked to increased risk of death in COVID-19 patients

Patty Aguilar | 22 May, 2020, 22:35

"These findings highlight the importance of awaiting the results of ongoing prospective, randomized, controlled studies before widespread adoption of these drugs".

Authors of a separate study that supported the use of antimalaria drugs with antibiotics for Covid requested that their paper be withdrawn, according to the Retraction Watch website.

Trump has repeatedly promoted the drug as a possible treatment for coronavirus despite warnings from medical professionals that there is no evidence it is effective for Covid-19 patients.

Experts found that hydroxychloroquine - and a related medicine chloroquine - was linked to an increased risk of death and heart arrhythmias among people severely ill in hospital with coronavirus.

If the rate of mortality is 9.3 per cent in the control group, the scientists said, on adjustment for other clinical factors, the rate attributable to the use of the drug regimens would rise to 12.4-13.4 per cent.

President Trump spoke about taking an antimalarial drug earlier this week.

"Before, the data suggested there may be no overall benefit of hydroxychloroquine, but this study shows increasing evidence that not only is there no benefit, there may likely be harm", Boulware said.

Tests to determine whether hydroxychloroquine can prevent COVID-19 is open to staff in Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals and at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital.

Both these drugs have a good safety profile as treatments for those specific conditions, and the current research said these patients should not stop taking these drugs if they are prescribed for approved conditions.

'The best way to find out if they are effective in preventing Covid-19 is in a randomised clinical trial'.

"Each of these drug regimens was associated with decreased in-hospital survival and increased frequency of ventricular arrhythmias when used for treatment of COVID-19", the researchers wrote. Dr. Sean Conley said in a statement that, after "numerous discussions" with Trump, "we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks".

On April 24, the Food and Drug Administration cautioned against the use of hydroxychloroquine "outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems".

"However, we now know from our study that the chance that these medications improve outcomes in COVID-19 is quite low", he added. Retail sales of hydroxychloroquine reportedly soared in March, the month Trump called the drug a "game changer" for treating coronavirus.

"The key finding of this study is that neither single, nor combination therapy with either chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine appear to provide any patient benefit in large numbers of Covid-19 infected patients".

Results from some of the first large, randomized studies of hydroxychloroquine are expected soon, including a study being conducted by the French government and one at the University of Minnesota. The drugs are used to prevent and treat malaria and can reduce fever and inflammation.

The results about heart rhythm issues are harder to discount, because they are known side effects of the drugs.

"It might even be said that to go on giving them, other than in a trial, is unethical, given this evidence that is not yet contradicted by other available evidence".

The biggest risk increase was seen in the group treated with hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic, where 8 per cent of patients who got the combination developed a heart arrhythmia, compared with 0.3 per cent of those in the comparison group.

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