The large observational analysis examined nearly 100,000 COVID-19 patients in 671 hospitals between December 20, 2019 and April 14, 2020, but it was not a clinical trial.
Posted in The Lancet, the study included 14,888 people treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine.
Hydroxychloroquine has received a lot of media attention as a COVID-19 treatment since French doctor Didier Raoult said he was treating patients in Marseille with the drug and an antibiotic. He published a small study without a control group in March.
The drug is under study in several clinical trials worldwide, including the World Health Organization’s solidarity trial.
The new global analysis found no benefit in COVID-19 patients, but rather an increased risk of heart problems and death.
About 9% of the patients died in the control group, compared to about 16% of those taking chloroquine, the study found.
The study also showed a higher risk in patients treated with chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic.
According to the study, about 22% of patients treated with chloroquine and an antibiotic died and 23% of those who took hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic died.31180-6 / fulltext)
Chloroquine is a drug used since the 1940s to treat malaria, and hydroxychloroquine is a less toxic derivative, but it has serious side effects, including headache, dizziness, nausea, and in some cases, heart problems.
Learn more: What do we know about hydroxychloroquine?
US President Donald Trump touted drug use against COVID-19 in mid-March, saying it showed “very, very encouraging results at the start.” He said controversially this month that he took it as a precaution against the coronavirus and said that he was feeling fine.
French Minister of Health Olivier Véran tweeted that an advisory council would examine the use of the drug after the release of The Lancet study to review government guidelines for its use.
The hype over the use of the drug has fueled global supply shortages that put patients with autoimmune disorders who depend on the drug for treatment at risk.
Read more: Coronavirus: Lupus drug that saves lives “in short supply” amid hype as COVID-19 antidote
“Our study has several limitations. The association of reduced survival with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine regimens should be interpreted with caution, “due to the observational nature of the study, researchers said about the new study published on Friday.
But Dr. David Aronoff, chief of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told AFP that the scope of the study is making an impact.
“It really gives us a certain degree of confidence that we probably won’t see the major benefits of these drugs in the treatment of COVID-19 and possibly harm,” said Aronoff, who was not involved in the study, at the AP.