Coronavirus-Study says drug Trump is consuming can increase death risks

Henrietta Strickland
May 23, 2020

The large observational study included records of 96,032 patients from 671 hospitals in six continents.

The drug "can be harmful and nobody should take it outside of a clinical trial", said Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Steven Nissen.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has allowed healthcare providers to use the drugs for COVID-19 through an emergency-use authorization, but has not approved them to treat it.

However, the researchers cautioned that because this was an observational study and not a randomized control trial, which is the gold standard of medical research, they could not rule out the possibility that other factors that hadn't been measured were responsible for the increased deaths.

Weeks ago, Trump had promoted hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment based on a positive report about its use against the virus, but subsequent studies found that it was not helpful and came with risks.

In the study that looked at more than 96,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, those treated with hydroxychloroquine or the related chloroquine had higher risk of death and heart rhythm problems than patients who were not given the medicines.

The patients were admitted to 671 hospitals between December 20 and April 14, and all had either been discharged or had died by April 21. Patients who received hydroxychloroquine alone had a 34% increase in mortality risk and a 137% increase in risk of irregular heartbeat.

Researchers found the 14,888 patients in the treatment group suffered higher mortality when compared to the control group of over 80,000.

As previously announced, in a study of 1,063 patients sick enough to be hospitalised, the drug shortened the time to recovery by 31 per cent - 11 days on average versus 15 days for those just given usual care. All four of the treatments were associated with a higher risk of dying in hospital. The biggest increase was in the group treated with hydroxychloroquine in combination with an antibiotic, where 8% of patients developed a heart arrhythmia compared with 0.3% of patients not given the drugs. When the drugs were used in combination with a macrolide, the death rate rose to more than one in five for chloroquine (22.2%, 839/3,783) and nearly one in four for hydroxychloroquine (23.8%, 1,479/6,221).

The death rates of the treated groups were: hydroxychloroquine 18%; chloroquine 16.4%; control group 9%. Some proponents of the drugs as treatments for the disease argue that they may need to be administered at an earlier stage in order to be effective.

Those who received Gilead's remdesivir treatment were excluded from the study.

- A 45% increase in risk of death for those given hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic, and a 411% increase in risk of serious heart arrhythmias.

The FDA has said that, for safety reasons, hydroxychloroquine should be used only for hospitalized COVID-19 patients or those in clinical trials. "However, we now know from our study that the chance that these medications improve outcomes in COVID-19 is quite low", co-author of the study Dr.

"We were unable to confirm a benefit of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, when used alone or with a macrolide, on in-hospital outcomes for COVID-19", the researchers wrote in The Lancet, where the study was published. Frank Ruschitzka, as cited by CNN.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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