The anti-malarial drug hydroxy-chloroquine was ineffective when used on patients with the new coronavirus, COVID-19, and linked to a higher death rate, a new study found.
Hydroxy-chloroquine drug which in Mid-March was approved by US President Donald Trump in the treatment of Coronavirus (COVID-19) but health experts including Food and Drug Administrator Stephen Hahn, emphasized that it needed to undergo trials to see if it would work against the virus. The FDA later granted emergency authorization to hospitals to use the drug in limited cases as a last-ditch treatment.
Several small studies on hydroxychloroquine have since showed poor results particularly when the drug is used in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin which showed similar results in a larger study on COVID-19 patients from Veterans Affairs.
368 male COVID-19 patients were tracked by VA study, 97 were given hydroxychloroquine and 113 took hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. The other 158 patients did not receive any hydroxychloroquine.
The patients who took the drugs died at a higher rate than those who did not. More than 27 percent of the hydroxychloroquine patients died, and 22 percent of those who took both hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin died. In contrast, those who did not take hydroxychloroquine had a rate of death more than two times lower, 11.4 percent.
More research into the drug is still needed, the study authors said, but their results indicate that hydroxychloroquine is not an effective treatment and should not be used on COVID-19 patients.
“An association of increased overall mortality was identified in patients treated with hydroxychloroquine alone,” the authors wrote. “These findings highlight the importance of awaiting the results of ongoing prospective, randomized, controlled studies before widespread adoption of these drugs.”