France bans hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19 patients

Grant Boone
May 28, 2020

The WHO suspended the study of Hydroxychloroquine as COVID-19 treatment to review safety concerns due to report of higher death risks.

The French government has banned the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, making France the first nation to do so since the start of the global pandemic.

It comes after the World Health Organsiation (WHO) paused a large trial fo the drug because of safety concerns. "Although observational studies can not fully account for unmeasured confounding factors, our findings suggest not only an absence of therapeutic benefit but also potential harm with the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine drug regimens" in hospitalized patients.

Last week, the study in the Lancet analysed data from almost 15,000 patients with Covid-19 who received the drug alone or in combination with antibiotics, against a control group of 81,000 who did not receive it.

US President Donald Trump and others have pushed hydroxychloroquine in recent months as a possible coronavirus treatment. Those at greater risk of adverse reactions to study medicines are excluded from taking part'.

French virologist Dr Didier Raoult was one of the proponents of hydroxychloroquine but his support for the drug has been heavily criticised by other medical experts.

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The ICMR in its revised advisory on May 22 recommended use of the drug as a preventive medication for COVID-19 for asymptomatic healthcare workers working in non-COVID hospitals and frontline staff on surveillance duty in containment zones and paramilitary/police personnel involved in coronavirus infection related activities.

But in Africa many countries are ignoring this caution and declaring their intentions to proceed with clinical trials and using the drug to treat patients. Last week, President Trump admitted that he himself was taking the drug.

Hydroxychloroquine's benefit-to-risk ratio will be re-evaluated if new findings come to light, France's health ministry said in an emailed statement. Several governments, including the UK's and multiple U.S. states', have been stockpiling hydroxychloroquine and planning their own trials with COVID-19 patients.

Hydroxychloroquine, the old malaria medicine touted as a treatment for Covid-19, can no longer be used to treat the new coronavirus in France amid growing evidence that it can cause more harm than good.

"According to the Ministry of Health, patient care guidelines published by the five medical professions are continuously assessing the usage of this drug, with smaller doses and shorter duration of administration", he said.

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