WHO Temporarily Suspends Hydroxychloroquine Tests for COVID-19, Nigeria Goes On with the Trial

Society » HEALTH | May 27, 2020, Wednesday // 14:50| Views: | Comments: 0
Bulgaria: WHO Temporarily Suspends Hydroxychloroquine Tests for COVID-19, Nigeria Goes On with the Trial pixabay.com

Testing of the malaria drug as a possible treatment for coronavirus has been halted because of safety fears, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

Trials in several countries are being "temporarily" suspended as a precaution, the agency said on Monday.

It comes after a recent medical study suggested the drug could increase the risk of patients dying from Covid-19.

President Donald Trump has said he has taken the drug to ward off the virus.

The US president has repeatedly promoted the anti-malarial drug, against medical advice and despite warnings from public health officials that it could cause heart problems.

Last week, a study in medical journal The Lancet said there were no benefits to treating coronavirus patients with hydroxychloroquine, and that taking it might even increase the number of deaths among those in hospital with the disease.

Hydroxychloroquine is safe for malaria, and conditions like lupus or arthritis, but no clinical trials have recommended its use for treating Covid-19.

The WHO, which is running clinical trials of various drugs to assess which might be beneficial in treating the disease, has previously raised concerns over reports of individuals self-medicating and causing themselves serious harm.

On Monday, officials at the UN health agency said hydroxychloroquine would be removed from those trials pending a safety assessment.

The Lancet study involved 96,000 coronavirus patients, nearly 15,000 of whom were given hydroxychloroquine - or a related form chloroquine - either alone or with an antibiotic.

The study found that the patients were more likely to die in hospital and develop heart rhythm complications than other Covid patients in a comparison group.

The death rates of the treated groups were: hydroxychloroquine 18%; chloroquine 16.4%; control group 9%. Those treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine in combination with antibiotics had an even higher death rate.

The researchers warned that hydroxychloroquine should not be used outside of clinical trials./BBC

France revokes decree authorising use of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19

The French government on Wednesday revoked a decree authorising hospitals to prescribe the controversial drug for Covid-19 patients after France’s public health watchdog warned against its use to treat the disease.

The government’s decision comes two days after the World Health Organization (WHO) said safety concerns had prompted it to suspend use of the drug in a global trial.

Last week, a study published in British medical journal The Lancet found patients randomised to get hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) had increased mortality rates and higher frequency of irregular heartbeats. 

HCQ is normally prescribed to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, but US President Donald Trump and others have touted it as a possible treatment for Covid-19.

The drug has been the subject of much debate in France, where “maverick” Professor Didier Raoult claimed in March to have successfully treated Covid-19 patients using a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin.

However, doctors have questioned the value of Professor Raoult’s study, saying it was poorly designed and based on too small a sample to offer hard evidence of benefit.

Last month the European Medicines Agency warned that there was no indication HCQ could treat Covid-19 and said some studies had seen serious and sometimes fatal heart problems in patients./FRANCE 24 with REUTERS

Nigeria goes on with hydroxychloroquine clinical trials

Nigerian authorities have said that they will continue with hydroxychloroquine clinical trials on COVID-19 patients, despite a warning by the World Health Organization (WHO).

''I do not know the data that they’re looking at, whether it’s from the Caucasian population or from the African population,'' the director of Nigeria's National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (Nafdac) said.

''If the data they’re looking at and the reason for suspending the trials is from Caucasian population, then it may be justified. But I don’t think we have data from the African population yet, because our genetic make up is different," Mojisola Adeyeye was quoted by local media as saying on Tuesday.

''If medical doctors, research scientists, pharmacists, herbal experts work together, we should conclude the clinical trial in 3-4 months. The narrative might change afterwards but for now, we believe in hydroxychloroquine," she added.

On Monday, the WHO said that due to safety concerns, it is temporarily halting a clinical trial of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine for treating coronavirus patients.

The announcement followed a publication by the Lancet medical journal of an observational study on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine and its effects on hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

More than 400 hospitals in 35 countries are actively recruiting patients, and nearly 3,500 patients had been enrolled from 17 countries to test the drug, according to the WHO.

Nigeria has so far recorded 8,344 coronavirus cases, with 249 deaths, and 2,385 recoveries, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

The pandemic has claimed more than 350,500 lives in 188 countries and regions since originating in China last December. The US and Brazil are currently the worst-hit countries.

More than 5.59 million cases have been reported worldwide and 2.28 million people have recovered to date, according to figures compiled by the US-based Johns Hopkins University./AA.com

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