Tom Brenner | Reuters
Hydroxychloroquine taken in combination with azithromycin has been associated with “significantly high levels of cardiac arrest” even after adjusting for factors such as gender, age, underlying health conditions and more serious illnesses. serious, according to a new study published in the JAMA network on Monday.
The New York State Department of Health, in partnership with the University of Albany, had conducted a so-called observational study that researchers hoped to shed light on the drug’s potential effectiveness.
Researchers at the Albany University School of Public Health analyzed more than 1,400 medical records of patients hospitalized with Covid-19 at 25 hospitals in the New York metropolitan area between March 15 and March 28.
At least 735 patients received hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin, 271 hydroxychloroquine alone, 211 azithromycin alone, and 221 received no medication. The researchers said they “did not see any significant benefit” from the drugs administered.
“This observational study gave us important early insight into some key questions related to the modes of prescribing hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and chloroquine,” said David Holtgrave, dean of the School of Public Health. ‘University of Albany and researcher working with the State. a statement to CNBC. “Unfortunately, we have not seen the benefits of the most widely used drug (hydroxychloroquine with or without azithromycin) in this group of critically ill hospital patients. “
Observational studies are not considered to be as conclusive as randomized controlled trials because doctors can prescribe a variety of other drugs to treat an infection. However, the less formal process can yield faster results and help the process of approving certain treatments.
This is the second study in less than a week to conclude that hydroxychloroquine may not be helpful to patients.
On Thursday, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the drug did not seem to help hospital patients with Covid-19.
This study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted by researchers from the New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York, examined 1,376 consecutive patients who presented to the emergency department with symptoms of coronavirus .
Almost 60%, or 811 of the patients, received the drug within 48 hours and were found, on average, to be more seriously ill than those who did not, according to the researchers. They said the study found no potential benefit or harm from the drug, adding that a rigorous randomized clinical trial is needed.
The new findings come after the Food and Drug Administration warned consumers against chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 outside of a hospital or formal clinical setting.
The agency said it was aware of reports of “serious heart rhythm problems” in patients with the virus who were treated with antimalarial drugs, often in combination with an antibiotic azithromycin, commonly known as Z-Pak.
Chloroquine was approved by the FDA in 1949 to treat malaria. Hydroxychloroquine is often used by doctors to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
The researchers said the results should be reviewed by doctors and patients in conjunction with the results of randomized controlled trials, other empirical studies, NIH treatment guidelines, and FDA drug safety communications.