European Union regulator wants more data on malaria drug's use for COVID-19

Henrietta Brewer
May 30, 2020

President Trump has frequently touted hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 - and last week, he said that he was taking doses of both hydroxychloroquine and zinc to protect against the coronavirus, despite warnings about the drug.

France's health minister Olivier Véran ordered a review of trials using the drug at the weekend after a study in The Lancet showed the drug was not effective at fighting the disease, causes irregular heartbeats, and increased the risk of dying.

ICMR said there were no major side-effects of HCQ found in studies in India and its use can be continued in preventive treatment for COVID-19 under strict medical supervision, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

World Health Organisation Halts Trials of Trump’s ‘Miracle’ Covid-19 Drug, Citing Safety Concerns

"Whereas, the first reported symptoms of the diseases as cluster of cases of pneumonia were recorded on the December 31, 2019 in Wuhan, China, it was only on the January 5, 2020 that World Health Organization published the first disease outbreak news on the new virus".

Hydroxychloroquine, which was earlier described as a "game-changer" by Trump to treat COVID-19 is still not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The WHO's decision is the latest setback for backers of hydroxychloroquine, which has produced a series of disappointing results in scientific studies.


In a statement the Lancet said it had received "several questions" over the study.

These policy choices were made after an article was published Friday in a medical journal, The Lancet, which cast doubt that either that drug or a related malaria medication, chloroquine, could help COVID-19 patients.

The paper's authors said they had analyzed data gathered from 671 hospitals on six continents that shared granular medical information about almost 15,000 patients who had received the drugs and 81,000 who had not, while shielding their identities. "We have no control over the source of the information". Data from Australia are not compatible with government reports. A copy of this letter was also sent to Editor-in-Chief of the Lancet.


Scientists who wrote and signed the letter criticizing the study included clinicians, researchers, statisticians and ethicists from academic medical centers, including Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt University and Duke University. The trial aimed to involve over 40,000 frontline healthcare workers and staff in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America with close contact with patients with Covid-19. Comparing rates to the same dates one year ago, the researchers tracked data on prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine, the antibiotic azithromycin, and the other top 10 most prescribed drugs in the United States. Due to the alarming findings published in the Lancet, Ghebreyesus said Monday, the use of hydoxychloroquine in the trial, which now has more than 3,500 patients in 17 countries, will temporarily halt. On May 25, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced it would be suspending its hydroxychloroquine testing out of what it called an "abundance of caution".


Other reports by iNewsToday

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