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GPs go forth

Hydroxychloroquine has ‘no effect’ against Covid-19, studies find

The antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine has no effect on the survival rate of patients with Covid-19 and might even increase the risk of adverse effects, recent studies have suggested

A French study, published last week in the BMJ, looked at patients in hospital with pneumonia due to Covid-19, 84 of whom received hydroxychloroquine and 97 who did not. This comes after the drug received worldwide attention as potential treatment for Covid-19.

After 21 days, the research found no significant difference in survival rates without transfer to the intensive care unit between the treated and control groups (76% and 75%, respectively). Overall, 89% of the treatment group and 91% of the control group survived in that time period.

A Chinese study, also published last week in the BMJ, found that the antimalarial drug did not clear the virus more quickly in patients with mainly mild-to-moderate Covid-19, when compared to those receiving standard care, and also raised concerns about adverse effects.

It stated: ‘Data from our trial do not provide evidence to support the use of hydroxychloroquine [in patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19], particularly considering the increased adverse events.’

The researchers in China assigned 150 hospital patients with Covid-19 to receive either hydroxychloroquine plus standard care or just standard care.

On day 28, tests revealed similar rates of Covid-19 in both groups, although adverse events - particularly gastrointestinal events – were more common in those who received hydroxychloroquine (20% and 9%).

US president Donald Trump sparked controversy this week when he said he has been taking hydroxychloroquine for about two weeks, following public hype about the drug as a coronavirus treatment.

Hydroxychloroquine was developed as antimalarial but is also used to treat conditions like lupus and arthritis.

Another recent study found that renin-angiotensin aldosterone system inhibitors – taken by some patients with hypertension – do not impact the severity of Covid-19, as Pulse's sister title Nursing in Practice reported.

Mounting evidence has also indicated that men and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people are disproportionately affected by Covid-19.

Earlier this week, the UK’s chief medical officers added anosmia – the loss of taste and smell – to the list of symptoms that should prompt people to self-isolate due to possible Covid-19.

Readers' comments (2)

  • So at what point does the Oxford lead study remove this drug form their huge trial. Both the French and Chinese trial show what what was already announced in the USA back in March that it not only does no good but positively does harm. Surely it is unethical to continue with this particular drug. The fact that Trump is taking it should be enough !

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    To answer your question David Riley, if and when the evidence for your assertions is stronger.

    To look at this BMJ trial, 181 patients in French hospitals only, who required oxygen but NOT intensive care, and no zinc/azithromycin...

    - I'm not privy to the exact study details but it appears the web is cast wide in terms of qualifying criteria.

    I fail to see how Trump taking it has an adverse bearing on it, unless of course, you think his doctor/medical advisors are incompetent.

    The evidence for remdesivir is even more lacking...

    So maybe, it might be too early to draw conclusions...

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