A clinical trial of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in coronavirus patients has been suspended amid safety concerns.
The drug has been touted by President Donald Trump and he even revealed he took the medication for two weeks as a prophylactic.
But the World Health Organization (WHO) said it was concerned after a study from The Lancet published on Friday revealed higher mortality rates among COVID-19 patients who took the drug.
Therefore, researchers said they’re suspending the use of hydroxychloroquine in the WHO’s Solidarity Trial, which is to evaluate the safety and efficacy of four drugs and drug combinations against the virus.
‘The executive group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity trial while the safety data is reviewed by the data safety monitoring board,’ WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.
However, the other arms of the trial are continuing.
President Trump was among the first to wax lyrical about the possible benefits of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus patients last month.
‘This would be a gift from heaven, this would be a gift from God if it works,’ he said. ‘We are going to pray to God that it does work.’
He then repeated the claims on Twitter.
‘HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. The FDA has moved mountains – Thank You! Hopefully, they will BOTH (H works better with A, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents),’ he wrote in March.
Last week, Trump said he’d been taking the malaria drug for a week-and-a-half to stave off the virus.
In an interview with Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson that aired on Sunday, Trump announced he’d finished taking his prescription.
‘Finished, just finished,’ the commander-in-chief said. ‘And by the way, I’m still here. To the best of my knowledge, here I am.’
Trump has faced criticism for repeatedly promoting the drug’s use against the coronavirus and urging people to try it.
On Friday, a study published in The Lancet looked at more than 96,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including those treated with hydroxychloroquine or its analog chloroquine.
Researchers found no benefit for coronavirus patients taking the drugs.
In fact, patients had a higher risk of death and heart rhythm problems than patients who were not given the medicines.
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The authors suggested that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine should not be used to treat COVID-19 outside of clinical trials until studies confirm their safety and efficacy in such patients.
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