The bloom appears to be off the rose when it comes to the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine. President Trump has repeatedly touted it as a possible treatment for the novel coronavirus, but a yet-to-be-peer-reviewed study released Tuesday found there were more deaths among COVID-19 patients at US veteran hospitals who were given hydroxychloroquine versus those who received standard care. Specifically, roughly 28% who were given hydroxychloroquine plus usual care died; 11% of those who got only usual care died. What else is happening on the hydroxychloroquine front:
- On March 21, the president tweeted that hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin, "taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine," in terms of their potential as a coronavirus treatment. NPR reports that April 21 brought a starkly different take from experts sitting on a panel assembled by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. They recommended doctors not use that combo due to possible toxicities.
- Their assessment: "The combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin was associated with QTc prolongation in patients with COVID-19." QTc prolongation is tied to abnormalities in heart rhythm or sudden cardiac death, reports Forbes.