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A small study found that hydroxychloroquine is not effective in treating patients infected with coronavirus



On Saturday, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of two malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and related drugs, chloroquine, for emergency treatment to treat COVID-19. The drugs were advertised by President Trump as a "game changer" for COVID-19.

However, a recent study published in a French medical journal provides new evidence that hydroxychloroquine does not appear to help the immune system remove the coronavirus from the body. The study follows two more – one in France and one one in China – which reported some benefits in the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for COVID-1

9 patients who did not have severe symptoms of the virus [19659002] I am a medical chemist who has specialized in the discovery and development of antiviral drugs for 30 years and has been actively working on coronaviruses for seven years. I am one of a number of researchers who are concerned that this drug has been given too high a priority before there is sufficient evidence that it is actually effective.

   A small study found that hydroxychloroquine is not effective in treating infected coronavirus patients.

A study with a malaria drug in France last month showed different results from a similar study. Photo credit: Liliboas / Getty Images

There are other clinical studies that show that is not effective against COVID-19 and several other viruses . And more importantly, it can have dangerous side effects and give people false hope. The latter has led to a widespread lack of hydroxychloroquine in patients who need it to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, the indications for which it was originally approved.

The idea that the combination of hydroxychloroquine with an antibiotic, azithromycin, was more effective against COVID-19, according to a study published on March 17. This study described a study of 80 patients conducted by Philippe Gautret in Marseille, France. Although some of their results appeared to be encouraging, it should also be noted that most of their patients had mild symptoms. In addition, 85 percent of patients did not even have a fever – one of the main telltale symptoms of the virus, suggesting that these patients would likely have naturally eliminated the virus without intervention.

In another study, Chinese scientists from the Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University in Wuhan, China, gave patients with only mild infections who were free of medical problems, similar to Gautret, hydroxychloroquine, published on medRxiv that has not yet been reviewed by experts. The results showed that the 31 patients who received the drug showed a reduction in their symptoms 24 hours earlier than the patients in the control group. In addition, pneumonia symptoms improved in 25 of the 31 patients compared to 17 out of 31 in the control group. As mentioned in several comments on the manuscript, there are problems with the translation of the paper, which can cloud the interpretations of some results. The paper also appears to focus more on pneumonia than on COVID-19. However, these issues can be resolved or resolved once the paper has completed the peer review process.

However, two further studies have contradictory results.

A second French group, led by Jean-Michel Molina, has now tested this. Combination therapy with hydroxychloroquine-azithromycin in 11 patients at the Saint-Louis Hospital in Paris, France, and their results were strikingly different .

Like the Marseille study, the Molina study was a small pilot study. Molina and colleagues used the same dosing schedule as Gautret. In contrast to the Gautret study, however, eight of the eleven patients had health problems and ten of eleven had a fever and were quite sick at the start of the dose.

These Paris researchers found that after five to six days of treatment with hydroxychloroquine (600 mg per day for 10 days) and azithromycin (500 mg on day 1 and 250 mg on day 2 to 5), eight of the 10 Patients still tested positive for COVID-19. Of these 10 patients, one died, two were taken to the intensive care unit and another had to be removed from treatment due to serious complications.

In addition, a similar study in China showed no difference in viral clearance after seven days, either with or without hydroxychloroquine, in the patients in the study. This supports Molina's results.

Despite the recent approval of this drug for use against COVID-19, questions remain regarding the effectiveness of this treatment. As Molina and colleagues remark, "Ongoing randomized clinical trials with hydroxychloroquine should provide a final answer to the alleged effectiveness of this combination and evaluate its safety."

Katherine Seley-Radtke ] Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Elected President of the International Society for Antiviral Research, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

This article was from The Conversation re-released under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article .

Updated on: Apr 9, 2020 10:14:54 am IST

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