Soaring prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine – questionable treatment for coronavirus approved by Trump

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TOPLINE

New prescriptions for the antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were increased 80-fold in March, according to a new study from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention released Thursday, illustrating the influence of the emergency use of the Food and Drug Administration’s authorization. and President Trump’s encouragement for its use against Covid-19, despite a lack of data confirming the benefits against the coronavirus.

HIGHLIGHTS

The FDA issued its emergency use authorization on March 20, a week after Trump declared a national emergency, but after numerous studies found no benefit for its use and instead found significant side effects of its use, the agency warned against its use on April 24 and revoked the authorization on June 15.

New prescriptions from specialists who normally did not prescribe drugs increased from 1,143 in February to 75,569 in March, an 80-fold increase year over year.

In total, prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine between March and April increased by 60%, from 819,906 in 2019 to 1,312,859 in 2020, with new prescriptions declining in May and June as further research was unsuccessful. to prove that the drugs worked as a Covid-19 treatment.

Trump has been criticized for his strong endorsement of hydroxychloroquine despite its known side effects, telling an April 4 White House briefing: “What have you got to lose, take it I think really they should take it. “

While researchers published studies that did not prove hydroxychloroquine-treated Covid-19, Trump continued to promote the drug, even claiming to have briefly taken the drug prophylactically and delaying studies on convalescent plasma in early August. to examine hydroxychloroquine instead.

The FDA’s emergency use clearance for convalescent plasma on August 23 – a day after Trump criticized the agency and a day before the Republic’s national convention – was the subject of a scrutiny due to a lack of data proving the treatment is working, fueling fears the agency may rush to approve a Covid-19 vaccine clearance for political purposes.

Key context

There is no known cure for Covid-19. Beyond plasma, the only other drug with emergency use authorization against the coronavirus is remdesivir, which studies have shown shortens recovery time from severe symptoms in hospitalized patients. There are currently 26,118,288 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, with the United States leading with 6,131,344. The country also leads the number of reported deaths with 186,293 of 864,801 worldwide.

Large number

63 millions. That’s the number of doses of hydroxychloroquine in storage by the federal government when the FDA revoked its emergency use authorization in June.

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