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European countries reject hydroxychloroquine treatments for COVID-19

Published on 28/05/20 at 11:53am
License to use Creative Commons Zero/Photo from PeakPix

Multiple European countries have rejected the use of hydroxychloroquine in patients suffering from coronavirus, due to a lack of evidence that it is effective.

On Tuesday, France’s public health agency advised against the use of hydroxychloroquine following a Lancet study published last week that casted doubt on the benefit of COVID-19 patients taking either the drug or chloroquine.

Health Minister Olivier Veran also asked the National Council for Public Health whether France should revise its emergency use authorization to prescribe hydroxychloroquine to coronavirus patients in hospitals.

France’s drug regulator, L’Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament et des produits de santé (ANSM), has also announced that no new patients should be enrolled in the 16 clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine currently underway in France.

Italy’s health authorities also concluded that there is not enough evidence to support the use of the drug to treat the virus, and it should be banned outside of clinical trials. The Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) said that current evidence points to an “increased risk for adverse reactions with little or no benefit.”

Britain has also put limits on its own use of the drug, as a study into its effectiveness by the University of Oxford has been put on hold. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said: “All hydroxychloroquine trials in COVID-19 remain under close review.”

The initial evidence that pointed to hydroxychloroquine working as a coronavirus treatment came from France, with Professor Didier Raoult’s study of 36 people. Raoult said he cured 100% of the patients but left out that six dropped out after the first six days and they died, were transferred to the ICU or couldn't tolerate the drug.

However, a study in Brazil was called off after it suffered 11 fatalities while another Chinese study showed that hydroxychloroquine did not speed up recovery from the coronavirus.

The results of another study into the use of hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients, has cast further doubts on its effectiveness in treating the virus. The research, titled the “Observational Study of Hydroxychloroquine in Hospitalized Patients with Covid-19”, was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The researchers concluded that: “Hydroxychloroquine administration was not associated with either a greatly lowered or an increased risk of the composite end point of intubation or death. Randomized, controlled trials of hydroxychloroquine in patients with COVID-19 are needed.”

Conor Kavanagh

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