US Suspends Emergency Use of Chloroquine And Hyroxychloroquine For COVID-19 Treatment

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The use of Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine for treatment of COVID-19 patients has been suspended. This is made known in a letter written by Denise Hinton, the chief scientist of the US Food and Drug Administration.

Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine are drugs derived from the quinoline molecule. Both are medications that have been used for many decades to treat malaria and autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Early this year, a test tube experiment showed the efficacy of these two drugs against the novel COVID-19, and small studies have shown that they also worked well in humans. These have led to emergency use of the drugs in many countries of the world for treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Recall that in March, the US president, Donald Trump approved these two drugs for urgent treatment of people tested positive to COVID-19 in the US.

“We’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately, and that’s where the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has been so great,” Trump told reporters.
“They’ve gone through the approval process… it’s been approved. They took it down from many, many months to immediate. So we’re going to be able to make that drug available by prescription.”

In contrast, Dr. Mike Ryan, the executive director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme informed the media that there is no evidence from randomized control trials that these two drugs worked and cautioned the clinicians to look out for side effects of these drugs to ensure that no harm is done. In his statement, the organisation is awaiting results from other trials.

“We eagerly await the outcome of other trials that are underway.”

Further studies have raised concerns about the efficacy and safety of these drugs when use to treat COVID-19 as they can have great impact on human heart. In spite of that, in March, the US Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for these drugs to treat patients admitted with COVID-19.

“In a better world, if we weren’t so panicked about this virus, we would wait and see if this drug had some value other than the President declaring that it has some value,” Offit said.

In recent times, more better-controlled experiments and human trials of Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroqunine have shown that the two medicines are not potent in treating COVID-19 or in preventing infection among people who have been exposed to the virus.

“It is no longer reasonable to believe that oral formulations of Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine may be effective in treating COVID-19,” Denise Hinton, chief scientist of the Food and Drug Administration wrote in a letter.
“Nor is it reasonable to believe that the known and potential benefits of these products outweigh their known and potential risk,”
“Accordingly, FDA revokes the EUA for emergency use of Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine to treat COVID-19.”

This revocation has dealt a death blow to the US president’s stand on these drugs usage. The president has personally backed the use of Chloroquine on many occasions, calling it a potential “game changer” in the fight against COVID-19.

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