There’s been a lot of talk about the malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, especially since Donald Trump bragged that he told his doctor to give him a prescription for it. You probably couldn’t get unapproved drugs for yourself, but let’s set that aside. Is the drug effective for Covid-19? There’s been a lot of research, so let’s take a look.
If you trust the Chinese, they produced a small study of an even smaller number of patients (62) in Hubei Province. Note that it has not been peer-reviewed.
Studies have indicated that chloroquine (CQ) shows antagonism against COVID-19 in vitro. However, evidence regarding its effects in patients is limited. . ., , , for TTCR [Time to clinical recovery], the body temperature recovery time and the cough remission time were significantly shortened in the HCQ treatment group. Besides, a larger proportion of patients with improved pneumonia in the HCQ treatment group (80.6%, 25 of 31) compared with the control group (54.8%, 17 of 31). . . However, there were 2 patients with mild adverse reactions in the HCQ treatment group.
There was also a French study, involving 20 patients and seemed to show that, “Hydroxychloroquine is significantly associated with viral load reduction/disappearance in patients with COVID-19 and its effect is reinforced by Azithromycin.” However, the New England Journal of Medicine, speaking of that same French study, notes, “However, data from 6 patients who received hydroxychloroquine were excluded from the analysis because of clinical worsening or loss to follow-up, which makes it difficult to interpret the findings.
A large study, published in the prestigious The Lancet (among the world’s oldest and best-known, peer-reviewed, general medical journals) found no value in the drug.
We did a multinational registry analysis of the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with or without a macrolide for treatment of COVID-19. The registry comprised data from 671 hospitals in six continents. . . 96,032 patients. . .were hospitalized during the study period. . . We were unable to confirm a benefit of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, when used alone or with a macrolide, on in-hospital outcomes for COVID-19. Each of these drug regimens was associated with decreased in-hospital survival and an increased frequency of ventricular arrhythmias when used for treatment of COVID-19.
That is, no benefit, but increased death and heart arrhythmia. Although it’s a huge study, from perhaps the most prestigious publication, it’s only one. Let’s try another: The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM):
Of 1446 consecutive patients, 70 patients were intubated, died, or discharged within 24 hours after presentation and were excluded from the analysis. Of the remaining 1376 patients. . .hydroxychloroquine administration was not associated with either a greatly lowered or an increased risk.
No apparent impact. Let’s try one more: The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) halted a study, due to negative effects, as reported by Business Insider.
An observational study published Monday in JAMA examined 1,438 patients hospitalized between March 14 and 28 in New York state. It found that those who received hydroxychloroquine, the antibiotic azithromycin, or both hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin didn’t have meaningfully lower rate of in-hospital deaths compared to patients who didn’t receive the drugs. . .
The study also reported that cardiac arrest was more common in patients who received both hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin compared to those who received neither drug.
That leads us to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which put out a warning not to use the drugs for this purpose.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a new warning about the known side effects of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. . . The FDA’s alert on April 24. . .does advise that reports they have received of deaths in COVID-19 patients receiving hydroxychloroquine. . .can result in “abnormal heart rhythms such as QT interval prolongation, dangerously rapid heart rate called ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation, and in some cases, death.”
The WHO also halted a study, due to observed negative effects.
Some have said the drugs have been used for years, so they must be safe, but The Mayo Clinic notes that is not true, saying there are serious drug interactions with a dozen other drugs, and that the drugs are not recommended to be used with more than 200 other medications, including insulin and Tamoxyphen (the cancer drug).
Should not be used in patients with this condition: Blood or bone marrow problems or Diabetes or Eye or vision problems or Muscle problems or Nerve problems or Porphyria (blood disorder) or Psoriasis (skin disease) or Stomach or bowel problems–Use with caution. May make these conditions worse. Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency—May cause hemolytic anemia in patients with this condition. Kidney disease or Liver disease—Use with caution. The effects may be increased because of the slower removal of the medicine from the body.
“I think the FDA has been very clear on their website about their concerns about hydroxychloroquine. . . Birx’s comments came in response to a question about a new study showing COVID-19 patients who took hydroxychloroquine had a higher risk of death than those who were not given the drug.
Warnings have also come from Neil Cavuto of Fox News.
Fox News’s Neil Cavuto warned that people must be careful with hydroxychloroquine, saying immediately after President Trump said that he had been taking the drug for more than a week that it could kill people who have certain underlying health conditions.
Cavuto offered the warning immediately after coverage of the president’s surprise remarks ended, saying of Trump’s comments, “That was stunning.”. . .
But Cavuto warned that a number of studies suggest it could be dangerous for people to take hydroxychloroquine.
“The fact of the matter is though, when the president said ‘what have you got to lose?’, in a number of studies, those certain vulnerable population has one thing to lose: their lives,” Cavuto said. . . “I cannot stress enough. This will kill you.”. . .
Cavuto cited a Department of Veterans Affairs study that demonstrated the risks of taking hydroxychloroquine if a patient has respiratory or heart ailments. The study showed patients, who had these conditions and took the drug, died.
Manny Alvarez, Fox News’s senior managing editor for health news also spoke out about Trump’s comments, calling it “highly irresponsible” for the president to announce he was taking the drug.
He said most hospitals including his are not using hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for coronavirus.
The evidence is clear that hydroxychloroquine is worthless, at best, against Covid-19, and would be dangerous or deadly to many of us.