Drug touted by Trump as virus treatment increases death risk

Drug touted by Trump as virus treatment increases death risk

Drug touted by Trump as virus treatment increases death risk

In addition to malaria, hydroxychloroquine is used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. "I had a two week regimen of hydroxychloroquine, and I've taken it - I think just about two weeks, I think it's another day, so - and I'm still here".

"When they gave the diagnosis, I felt like it was a death sentence".

The researchers acknowledged observational studies can not account for unmeasured confounding factors but added, "our findings suggest not only an absence of therapeutic benefit but also potential harm with the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine drug regimens (with or without a macrolide) in hospitalized patients with COVID-19". Randomized clinical trials are essential to confirm any harms or benefits associated with these agents.

That means neither the patients nor the researchers know who is getting a placebo and who is getting the treatment in order to prevent the results from being biased in any way, according to Co-Principal Investigator Professor Sir Nicholas White from the Bangkok-based Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU), which is running the trial.

The Lancet study looked at data from 671 hospitals, where 14,888 patients were given either hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, with or without the antibiotic macrolide, and 81,144 patients were not on any of the treatment regimens.

The highest rate (8%) was among patients given hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic, compared with 0.3% of patients in the control group. There was also a control group of patients not given these treatments. All four of the treatments were associated with a higher risk of dying in hospital.

Patients receiving the anti-malarials were put in four different groups: chloroquine alone, chloroquine with a macrolide, hydroxychloroquine alone, or hydroxychloroquine with a macrolide.

People treated with hydroxychloroquine, or the closely related drug chloroquine, were also more likely to develop a type of irregular heart rhythm, or arrhythmia, that can lead to sudden cardiac death, it concluded.

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- A 34% increase in risk of death for those given hydroxychloroquine, and a 137% increase in risk of serious heart arrhythmias. When taking those factors into account, the study found that the mortality rate for the group that did not take the drug was 9.3 percent. After adjustment for other risk factors, it appears that patients on hydroxychloroquine had double the risk of ventricular arrhythmias, and those on chloroquine had triple.

Others scientists suggested the drugs should no longer be used in Covid-19 treatments, except for carefully controlled clinical trials. Similarly, it is not possible to conclusively infer cause and effect between treatment with these medications and the onset of heart arrhythmias.

Cardiologist Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic said the new data, combined with data from smaller previous studies, suggests that the drug "is maybe harmful and that no one should be taking it outside of a clinical trial".

Trump, without evidence, called the veterans study a "Trump enemy statement".

For example, one US study published in late April found the death rate for people with COVID-19 who took hydroxychloroquine on top of usual care was actually higher than those who didn't - 28% vs. 11%, respectively.

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". Frank Ruschitzka, as cited by CNN.

Funding came from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.

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