A new study shows that hydroxychloroquine, the drug touted by US President ِDonald Trump, does not work against COVID-19 and could cause heart problems.
Even before these reports were published, the US Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health issued warnings about using the drugs for coronavirus patients.
“The nail has virtually been put in the coffin of hydroxychloroquine,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert and longtime adviser to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CNN reported.
In the most recent study, researchers at the University at Albany looked at 1,438 patients with coronavirus who were admitted to 25 New York City area hospitals. After statistical adjustments, the death rate for patients taking hydroxychloroquine was similar to those who did not take the drug. The death rate for those taking hydroxychloroquine plus the antibiotic azithromycin, was also similar.
However, the patients who took the drug combination were more than twice as likely to suffer cardiac arrest during the course of the study. Heart issues are a known side effect of hydroxychloroquine.
“The big takeaway for me from this study is that it’s very consistent with the FDA and NIH guidelines that came out in April,” said one of the study’s senior authors, David Holtgrave, dean of the School of Public Health at the University at Albany. “When deciding on public health interventions and treatments for COVID-19 or any other disease, it’s really important to follow the data and follow the science and make sure decisions are being made on the highest quality data possible.”
This study likely won’t be the last word on the drugs. Researchers at the University of Washington, New York University and other centers are still testing the drug in patients.