Health Care

World Health Organization resumes trial of hydroxychloroquine drug

World Health Organization resumes trial of hydroxychloroquine drug”

Just hours after the World Health Organization announced that clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine will resume, the first major study into the drug's effectiveness reported that it was no better than a placebo in preventing symptoms of Covid-19 developing.

Of those who received hydroxychloroquine, investigators said 49 developed the disease compared with 58 in the placebo group, a difference that could simply be random.

After suspending the hydroxychloroquine arm of a clinical trial of experimental COVID-19 drugs, the director-general of the World Health Organisation said experts had reviewed the safety data and were now recommending the trial continue as planned. Hydroxychloroquine has always been used for malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, but no large studies have shown it or chloroquine to be safe or effective for much sicker patients with the coronavirus, and some studies have suggested the drugs may do harm. "The Data Safety and Monitoring Committee of the Solidarity Trial has been reviewing the data", Tedros said on Wednesday. After a small study in France that was publicized in March suggested it might be effective in reducing some of the symptoms of COVID-19, doctors began investigating the medication among patients for the viral illness. Nausea, loose stools, and abdominal discomfort were the most common side effects.

The study said it had failed to find any benefit of HCQ or CQ (chloroquine, which too is anti-malarial) in Covid treatment.

The Guardian reached out to other hospitals who also contradicted the study's data.

But until doctors have the results of rigorous trials that randomly assign hospitalized patients to receive hydroxychloroquine or placebo-like the ones now conducted under the guidance of the NIH and WHO-are completed, they won't know for sure if that's the case. There was no further benefit among patients who chose to take zinc or vitamin C. almost 40% of patients on hydroxychloroquine experienced side effects such as nausea, upset stomach, or diarrhea.

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However, Surgisphere, which also provided patient data for two other high-profile coronavirus papers, has come under intense online scrutiny from researchers, who've pointed out many obvious shortcomings in the Lancet paper. The journal has now issued an Expression of Concern saying "important scientific questions have been raised about data" and noting "an independent audit of the provenance and validity of the data has been commissioned by the authors not affiliated with Surgisphere and is ongoing, with results expected very shortly".

Officials say they found out the researchers excluded data on patients who didn't respond well to the treatment and that they did not clarify what they meant when they said patients were 'virologically cured'.

"Our study's results set politics aside and provide unbiased evidence to guide practice in the prevention of Covid-19 and reinforce the importance of randomised clinical trials as we work together nationally and internationally to combat the novel coronavirus, " said Dr. Ryan Zarychanski, associate professor of internal medicine, at the Max Rady College of Medicine in the University of Manitoba.

Earlier on Tuesday, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) said it was concerned about the quality of the data behind a different study it published in May that also used data from Surgisphere and had the same lead author.

Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that all parts of the so-called Solidarity trial, which is investigating potential drug treatments, will go ahead.

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