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Arizona GOP lawmakers and AAPS say hydroxychloroquine has 90% chance of helping COVID-19 patients, but data is not based on clinical trials

Published on 29/04/20 at 12:58pm
Photo by Governor Tom Wolf

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) wrote a letter to Republican Arizona Governor Doug Ducey urging the wider use of hydroxychloroquine, based on data they have collected.

In their letter, they presented data of 2,333 COVID-19 patients saying that it helped 91% patients recover. This included observational data from China, France, South Korea, Algeria and the United States.

The letter concluded: “Many nations, including Turkey and India, are protecting medical workers and contacts of infected persons prophylactically. According to worldometers.info, deaths per million persons from COVID-19 as of Apr 27 are 167 in the U.S., 33 in Turkey, and 0.6 in India.

“Based on this evidence, we request that you rescind your Executive Orders impeding the use of CQ (chloroquine) and HCQ (hydroxychloroquine) and further order that administrative agencies not impose any requirements on the prescription of CQ, HCQ, azithromycin, or other drugs intended to treat or prevent coronavirus illness that do not apply equally to all approved medications that may be used off-label for any purpose.”

This was signed by Dr Michael J. A. Robb, Dr Jane M. Orient and members of the Arizona State Senate and House of Representatives. The politicians involved are all in the Republican Party.

The AAPS itself is an organisation that opposes abortion and universal healthcare. Their statement of principles declares that it is “evil” and “immoral” for physicians to participate in Medicare and Medicaid. It has previously said that electronic medical records are a form of data control that was formerly employed by the East German Stasi. On its website it also a ran a story in 2008 that Presidential candidate Barack Obama may be hypnotising voters.  

This move follows President Trump’s past insistence that hydroxychloroquine can be a “game changer” in the fight against coronavirus. He has recently stopped hyping up the drug after the latest clinical trials yielded poor results.

The AAPS data includes some larger trials, such as Dr Vladmir Zelenko's treatment of 405 coronavirus patients in New York and a study of 200 patients with the Veteran Affairs. But much of the data falls into more anecdotal categories with small or one off doses of the drug. Several rows in the table only have a doctor’s name, with no data, and others have just one patient being tested with the drug.

TV personality Dr Oz is included for treating people with hydroxychloroquine, reporting it improved COVID-19 symptoms in 100% of his patients. But he only tested two people. Furthermore, many in the medical field do not consider Dr Oz a trusted source due to his numerous endorsements of phony weight lose treatments or false assertions about food products. In 2015, Columbia’s University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons was pressured to fire Oz by other medical professionals.

Recently he was criticised for comments on Fox News. While discussing ending the coronavirus lockdown he said: “I tell ya, schools are a very appetising opportunity. I just saw a nice piece in The Lancet arguing the opening of schools may only cost us 2 to 3% in terms of total mortality.”

Another trial listed with 100% effectiveness was carried out on one person, 44 year old former Buffalo Bulls football player Mark Campbell. While boosting the statistics of hydoxychloroquine’s success, this can hardly be taken as representative of an average American coronavirus patient.

There are also many notable omissions and flaws with the data. It does not include fields for reporting side effects, adverse reactions, the number of COVID-19 patients seen or number treated with hydroxychloroquine with or without zinc, how many patients’ conditions improved or how many died.

In major clinical trials, hydroxychloroquine has been revealed to be life threatening in certain COVID-19 patients. In Brazil, a clinical trial was suspended after 11 patients died after taking the drug.

The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine has said that no current study has supported the view that “hydroxychloroquine is effective in the management of even mild COVID-19 disease.” The US National Institutes of Health (NIH), on 22 April, also released treatment guidelines for the use of hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients, saying it should not be used due to “potential toxicities.”

Conor Kavanagh

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