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Hydroxychloroquine Knocked Again: WHO Shuts Down Trials For It, HIV Drug As Coronavirus Treatments

TOPLINE

The World Health Organization announced Saturday it would suspend trials for the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and HIV treatment lopinavir/ritonavir for Covid-19 patients, casting further doubt on the drugs as potential coronavirus treatments.

KEY FACTS

The two drugs “produced little or no reduction” in mortality rates for Covid-19 patients, the WHO’s statement read, and that the trial’s international steering committee recommended it discontinue the trials for the drugs.

The call only applies to this specific trial and will not affect any other studies of how the treatments can be used as a pre- or post-exposure drug or by patients not in hospital, the WHO wrote.

According to Reuters, the WHO is also leading a trial into whether remdesivir, Gilead’s antiviral treatment, can be used for Covid-19 infections. 

Last month, the FDA announced it was withdrawing an emergency use authorization it issued in March for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as Covid-19 treatments because the potential side effects—namely heart problems—outweighed possible benefits, although according to the FDA website the organization is still investigating risks of the two drugs.

The National Institute of Health in June also stopped its clinical trials into hydroxychloroquine as an in-hospital Covid-19 treatment, writing in a release that “while there was no harm,” the drug was “very unlikely to be beneficial to hospitalized patients.”

U.S. President Donald Trump has promoted hydroxychloroquine on multiple occasions.

KEY BACKGROUND

Hydroxychloroquine has been a controversial drug since the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. In April, the FDA warned against taking chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine without supervision after reports of poisonings and deaths, days after an NIH panel recommended the same for hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. Trump has consistently touted hydroxychloroquine as a Covid-19 treatment, even going as far to say in May that he took it himself as a prophylactic.

FURTHER READING

All The Times Trump Has Promoted Hydroxychloroquine (Forbes)

FDA Revokes Emergency Use Authorization For Hydroxychloroquine In Treatment Of Coronavirus (Forbes)

FDA Warns Against Using Drugs Promoted By Trump After Reports Of ‘Poisoning And Death’ (Forbes)

NIH Panel Recommends Against Using Hydroxychloroquine And Azithromycin, Drug Combination Touted By Trump (Forbes)

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