Hydroxychloroquine, Chloroquine Associated With Increased Mortality Risk

Grant Boone
May 23, 2020

Further, the researchers concluded that they were unable to "confirm a benefit of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine when used alone or with a macrolide, on in-hospital outcomes for COVID-19".

David Maron, director of preventive cardiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, said that "these findings provide absolutely no reason for optimism that these drugs might be useful in the prevention or treatment of covid-19".

The overall study will involve 40,000 people who work with confirmed or suspected coronavirus patients from Europe, Africa, Asia and South America and will be a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial.

Demand for the decades-old hydroxychloroquine has surged as Trump repeatedly promoted its use against the coronavirus, urging people to try it.

"I get a lot of tremendously positive news on the hydroxy", Trump said Tuesday, "and, you know, I say, hey. what do you have to lose?"

Trump said this week he has been taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventative medicine despite a lack of scientific evidence.

The drug hydroxychloroquine offers no benefit to patients hospitalised with Covid-19, according to a new study in The Lancet. That study, funded in part by the U.S. government's National Institutes of Health, found higher overall mortality in coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine while in Veterans Administration hospitals.

United States says China security law a 'death knell' for Hong Kong autonomy
Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume. Lam has since used the coronavirus quarantine to arrest advocates of democracy in the city.

One of the findings of the current study seems hard to ignore: that the drugs increase the risk of unsafe disturbances in heart rhythms. Almost 15,000 patients were treated with one of the following: chloroquine (which is an older version of hydroxychloroquine), hydroxychloroquine, or either of those drugs in combination with an antibiotic.

The doctors conducting the study were: Mandeep Mehra of Harvard Medical School, Sapan Desai of the Chicago-based Surgisphere Corporation, Frank Ruschitzka of University Heart Center at the University Hospital Zurich, and Amit Patel of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Utah.

Mehra's group analyzed some 96,000 patients from 671 hospitals on six continents with COVID-19 infection, from December 20 to April 14, all of whom had either died or been discharged from the hospital by April 21. It found that those who were treated with chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine through four methods all died at a higher rate than those who did not received the drug. People receiving either chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine alone were 16% to 18% more likely to die in the hospital compared to those not receiving the medications, and those treated with these medications in combination with an antibiotic were 22% to 24% more likely to die in the hospital.

Hydroxychloroquine has become quite popular since US President Trump called it a "game-changer" in the fight against COVID-19. Amy Abernethy, the principal deputy commissioner at the Food and Drug Administration, told STAT this earlier this week. Doctors started to turn to the drug to treat COVID-19 after a small study in France suggested it might help alleviate some of the disease's inflammatory symptoms, which can compromise breathing and cause respiratory failure.

For years, hydroxychloroquine has been considered a generally safe and effective treatment for malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Last week, the National Institutes of Health announced a clinical trial of 2,000 adults to determine if hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin could be used to treat coronavirus patients.

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