Demand for the drug, which has the been on the market for decades in relative obscurity, spiked after President Trump started mentioning it in March. In a study of more than 1,300 people admitted to New York Presbyterian-Columbia University Irving Medical Center, for example, people receiving hydroxychloroquine did not show any lower rate of needing ventilators, or a lower risk of dying during the study period than those not getting the drug.
The researchers found that those who took chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine were more likely to develop serious cardiac arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats. New research has now emerged that might soon become a further target for Donald Trump's ire.
Overall, 14,888 patients were treated with hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine with a macrolide antibiotic or chloroquine with an antibiotic, and their results were compared to 81,144 controls who did not receive these drugs. The authors explain that if the rate of mortality is 9.3% in the control group, after adjustment for the other clinical factors, the rate attributable to the use of the drug regimens would rise to 12.4-13.4%.More news: DeSantis Lifts All Restrictions On Youth Activities
But until the results of those trials emerge, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine should not be used to treat COVID-19 patients, the researchers said.
The researchers have threatened that hydroxychloroquine should not be used outside of clinical trials.
"These findings provide absolutely no reason for optimism that these drugs might be useful in the prevention or treatment of COVID-19", said David Maron, director of preventive cardiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. "Why would you risk harm when there is so much consistent data showing lack of benefit [with hydroxychloroquine]?"
The big picture: The medical journal's review consisted of 96,000 hospitalized patients diagnosed with the coronavirus in six continents, the largest analysis of medical records on the drug, between December 20, 2019, and April 14, 2020.More news: Twitter has Fix for Unwanted Tweet Replies
"Any suggestion that the president does not value scientific data or the important work of scientists is patently false as evidenced by the many data-driven decision he has made to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including cutting off travel early from highly-infected populations, expediting vaccine development, issuing the 15-day and later 30-day guidance to 'slow the spread, ' and providing governors with a clear, safe road map to opening up America again", said White House spokesman Judd Deere.
The FDA has already urged against the use of the drug in treating COVID-19 outside of a hospital setting. A study of 368 USA veterans also showed that the drugs might be potentially harmful.
Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine were developed as anti-malarial drugs, but have since been used to treat arthritis and lupus.
Mr Trump says he has not tested positive for Covid-19 and is taking the drug because he thinks it has "positive benefits".More news: Hertz Files for Bankruptcy Protection as Car Rentals Evaporate in Pandemic
There is a study now underway involving more than 40,000 healthcare workers across Europe, Africa, Asia and South America, seeking to determine whether chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine could play a role in the fight against the novel coronavirus.