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National Institutes of Health says COVID-19 patients should not take hydroxychloroquine

Published on 22/04/20 at 10:30am
Photo from Pixarbay

Experts at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) have drafted treatment guidelines for the use of hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients, saying it should not be used due to “potential toxicities.”

In a statement released on their website, the NIH said: “The COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel (the Panel) does not recommend the use of any agents for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) outside of the setting of a clinical trial.

‘There are insufficient clinical data to recommend either for or against using chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19 (AIII). If chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine is used, clinicians should monitor the patient for adverse effects, especially prolonged QTc interval (AIII).”

These guidelines for doctors, nurses and medical professionals are set to be updated as more evidence is revealed. The panel behind the investigation is made up of experts from the federal government, American universities and professional medical societies.

The updated guidelines also say that no drug has been proven effective in treating COVID-19 nor has the FDA approved any drug for this purpose.

President Donald Trump has constantly touted the anti-malaria drug as a treatment for coronavirus. In late March, he tweeted that the drug was one of the “biggest game changers in the history of medicine” and hopefully the FDA would “move fast” to approve the drug. Trump later said people have “nothing to lose” by taking it.

When asked about the NIH’s updated guidelines, Trump said that: “We’ll take a look. I’m always willing to take a look.”

Hydroxychloroquine has failed two high-profile clinical trials. The most recent one came from France and included 181 patients in four hospitals, with all subjects in the trial having developed pneumonia as a result of COVID-19. Some patients developed irregular heartbeats from taking hydroxychloroquine meaning that the administered dose of the drug had to be stopped.

In another study coming out of Brazil, 11 patients died and many began suffering heart arrhythmias when being tested for higher doses of the drug.

Conor Kavanagh

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