Drug taken by Trump raises risk of death, study finds

The Guardian - - News | Coronaviru­s - Sarah Bose­ley Health editor

Hy­drox­y­chloro­quine, the anti-malar­ial drug taken to pre­vent Covid-19 by Don­ald Trump, has in­creased deaths in pa­tients treated with it in hos­pi­tals around the world, a study has shown.

The ma­jor study of the way hy­drox­y­chloro­quine and its older ver­sion, chloro­quine, have been used on six con­ti­nents – with­out clin­i­cal tri­als – re­veals a sober­ing pic­ture. Sci­en­tists said the re­sults meant the drugs should no longer be given to Covid pa­tients ex­cept in proper re­search set­tings.

While the pa­per pub­lished in the Lancet med­i­cal jour­nal on­line is not a trial de­signed to as­sess the drug, it shows a quick de­ci­sion to use it may be ill-ad­vised. Sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of doc­tors have been pre­scrib­ing it with­out ev­i­dence. It is known that the drug can cause heart ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties, but many have claimed it is very safe be­cause of its long use in malaria.

There was a rush to use the drugs in Covid-19 after the French doc­tor Di­dier Raoult claimed he was cur­ing his pa­tients in Mar­seille. The US pres­i­dent then be­gan to claim hy­drox­y­chloro­quine – less toxic than the orig­i­nal chloro­quine – was a cure. Later he said he was tak­ing it to pro­tect him­self.

The drugs are fairly safe for pa­tients be­ing treated for malaria, but Covid-19 is a very dif­fer­ent dis­ease. The au­thors of the pa­per pulled to­gether re­sults for more than 96,000 pa­tients in 671 hos­pi­tals, tak­ing one of the drugs, with or with­out an an­tibi­otic such as azithromyc­in, be­tween 20 De­cem­ber and 14 April.

drugs alone died, while one in five died if they were tak­ing chloro­quine with an an­tibi­otic, and one in four if they were on hy­drox­y­chloro­quine and an an­tibi­otic. The death rate among pa­tients not tak­ing the drugs was one in 11.

rst large-scale study to find sta­tis­ti­cally ro­bust ev­i­dence that treat­ment with chloro­quine or hy­drox­y­chloro­quine does not ben­e­fit pa­tients with Covid-19,” said Prof Man­deep R Mehra, lead au­thor of the study.

“In­stead, our find­ings sug­gest it may be as­so­ci­ated with an in­creased risk of se­ri­ous heart prob­lems and in­creased risk of death … We sug­gest th­ese drugs should not be used as treat­ments for Covid-19 out­side of clin­i­cal tri­als.”

▲ Hy­drox­y­chloro­quine, the malar­ial drug cham­pi­oned by Don­ald Trump

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