Hydroxychloroquine tied to increased risk of death

Hydroxychloroquine on tray

Hydroxychloroquine on tray

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".

Studies indicate that remdesivir, an antiviral that has not yet been approved to treat any disease, may help people with COVID-19 to recover faster, and the drug received FDA emergency use authorization to treat hospitalized patients.

His study looked at almost 15,000 people with COVID-19 getting one of the malaria drugs with or without one of the suggested antibiotics and more than 81,000 patients getting none of those medications.

The drug, hydroxychloroquine, has been around for decades but was thrust into the spotlight this spring when Trump began mentioning its name dozens of times during coronavirus briefings.

But until the results of those trials emerge, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine should not be used to treat COVID-19 patients, the researchers said.

Notably, United States President Donald Trump claimed he has been taking the drug.

Another study involving the use of hydroxychloroquine at veterans hospitals found no benefit among COVID-19 patients.

There was a rush to use the drug in Covid-19 cases after the French doctor Didier Raoult said he was curing his patients at La Timone hospital, in Marseille. Those who took hydroxychloroquine were 34% more likely to die and were 137% more likely to develop heart rhythm problems. It 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. "Based upon these findings and others, no one should take hydroxychloroquine with or without an antibiotic unless they are in a randomized controlled trial".

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Prof Martin Llewelyn from Brighton and Sussex Medical School-who is also leading the study-said, "A widely available, safe and effective vaccine may be a long way off".

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.

- A 37% increase in risk of death for those given chloroquine, and a 256% increase in risk of serious heart arrhythmias.

Earlier this week, he surprised the world by admitting he was taking the pill as a preventative medicine. Notably, studies have been inconclusive over the drug's efficacy against the disease and some even suggest it may worsen a patient's condition.

Dr Stephen Griffin, associate professor in the school of medicine at the University of Leeds, called for more research but said: "This is potentially a landmark study for Covid-19 therapy". Data from Premier Inc, a health care purchasing company for more than 4,000 hospitals, shows that hospitals saw a 260% surge in hydroxychloroquine orders in March compared to typical demand.

While the paper, published online in the Lancet medical journal, is not a trial created to assess the drug, it shows that the rush to use it around the world may be ill-advised.

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.

Young adults are also affected by Kawasaki-like disease linked to covid-19, doctors say.

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