This expert will cure your excitement for hydroxychloroquine. - 2020-04-20
For weeks, President Trump has touted the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as an effective treatment for COVID-19, which has killed nearly 36,000 Americans and infected more than 680,000. On Tuesday this week, the president referred to HCQ, typically used to treat patients with auto-immune disorders like lupus, as "pretty amazing…I haven't heard a bad story." In fact, the president hasn't ruled out an HCQ regiment for himself. During an April 5 press conference, he said, "I may take it. And I'll have to ask my doctors about that, but I may take it."
The medical community is more circumspect. The validity of two recent studies by a French doctor touting its effectiveness against COVID-19 with 42 and 80 patients, respectively, has been questioned by the medical community for a lack of objective requirements met by the studies; in one, the doctor broke norms by hand-picking the control group, and the second lacked a control group entirely. Another study, in Brazil, used HCQ and a related drug, chloroquine, on COVID-19 patients. At strong doses, both are known to cause heart arrhythmias, and after 11 patients on a high-level chloroquine regimen died, the study was discontinued. Another French study simply found it to be ineffective.
Nonetheless, many doctors have used the drug when it seems as if options for patients were running out. Anecdotally, some physicians in the United States and abroad have acknowledged some success in using HCQ in the fight against the coronavirus. Under pressure from the Trump administration, the Food and Drug Administration and Department of Health and Human Services have passed measures to ramp up its use in hospitals—and several clinical trials are simultaneously underway to determine HCQ's efficacy.