A failed study of nearly 1,400 COVID-19 patients taking hydroxychloroquine is the latest to cast doubt on the drug’s benefit as a coronavirus treatment.
The study, the largest to date, found that patients receiving hydroxychloroquine were just as likely to develop respiratory failure leading to intubation or death as those not taking the drug.
Researchers from Columbia University Irving Medical Center conducted an observational trial of 1,376 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Of the patients, 811 received the arthritis drug and 565 patients did not.
The study found that patients who received hydroxychloroquine had the same risk of intubation or death as patients who did not take it. Overall, 346 patients developed respiratory failure, 180 were intubated and 166 died without intubation.
Neil Schulger, co-author of the study, which was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday, said that the findings suggest that hydroxychloroquine should not be used as a COVID-19 treatment outside of randomized clinical trials.
The study is the most recent to cast doubt on the benefits of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for treating COVID-19. A small trial in Brazil evaluating chloroquine phosphate in 81 patients was cut short because of “toxicity red flags.” Researchers said higher doses of the drug caused irregular heart rhythms in some patients, particularly older individuals being treated with the antibiotic azithromycin and the antiviral oseltamivir (DID, April 14).
The New York State Department of Health and the University of Albany are currently conducting an observational study of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment. Results of that study have yet to be released.
Read the study report here: https://bit.ly/2yAkbji. — Jordan Williams