26 May 2020

World Health Organisation suspends trials of ‘Trump drug’ hydroxychloroquine due to safety concerns

The World Health Organisation is temporarily halting its global study into the use of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19 while it looks into safety concerns surrounding the drug.

Last week, President Trump revealed he was taking the malaria drug and promoted it as a preventative measure against coronavirus, despite health warnings from officials that it could be linked to heart problems.

And the WHO have now suspended hydroxychloroquine from its research trials after a paper published in The Lancet said there were no benefits of taking the drug in relation to the virus and suggested its adverse effects could actually increase the risk for COVID-19 patients.

Researchers looked at 96,000 coronavirus patients, of which almost 15,000 were given hydroxychloroquine or the closely related chloroquine.

Results showed the patients that were given the drug were more likely to develop heart rhythm complications and die in hospital than COVID-19 patients in a comparison group.

Participants given hydroxychloroquine had a death rate of 18% while chloroquine recipients were slightly lower at 16.4% and the control group rate was 9%.

Researchers also urged that hydroxychloroquine should not be used outside clinical trials, but is safe for malaria and conditions like arthritis or lupus as instructed by a doctor or other health professional.

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