The FDA is out with a clear new directive on the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine: stop using it on COVID-19 patients. The agency has concluded that the anti-malarial drug and the related chloroquine "are unlikely to produce an antiviral effect," reports Politico. "Nor is it reasonable to believe that the known and potential benefits of these products outweigh their known and potential risks," says the agency in a letter outlining its new position, reports the Washington Post. The drug has been in the headlines in part because President Trump has heavily promoted it—even taking a regimen of it himself as a preventative. But the new FDA move "appears to formally close the door on US officials’ willingness to use the drug to prevent or treat" COVID-19, per STAT.
The back and forth on the drug has been dizzying. In late March, the FDA authorized the emergency use of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus patients, notes the New York Times. The following month, the agency issued a warning about side effects including heart arrhythmias. Since then, other studies have raised more doubts about its effectiveness. The FDA has apparently seen enough. The new letter was sent to Gary Disbrow, acting director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. His predecessor, Rick Bright, has filed a whistleblower complaint and alleged that he was ousted from the post because he pushed back against the administration's promotion of the drug. (Read more hydroxychloroquine stories.)