Trump’s ‘Game Changer’ Drug Proved No Benefit for Coronavirus Treatment

A generic drug for anti-malaria, hydroxychloroquine, which was held by US President Donald Trump as a “Game Changer”, has been under the clinical test in a search for finding a cure or at least prevent the widespread COVID-19 that affected almost all countries across the globe.

According to a study that has been submitted for expert review, the old anti-malarial drug was found no benefit for the treatment of the virus-affected patients rather it posed a potentially higher risk of death for patients at US veterans hospitals.

Study Report on Hydroxychloroquine

The decades-old drug, hydroxychloroquine, has been widely used across the globe in an attempt to find a solution to the COVID-19 respiratory illness. Recently, an analysis of Veterans Health Administration (VA) data found that 28% of 97 patients who were given the drug along with standard care had died as compared with a death rate of 11% for the 158 patients who had not received the drug. Moreover, the death rate was 22% for the 113 patients given hydroxychloroquine plus the antibiotic azithromycin.

According to the paper posted online for researchers, it analyzed medical records from 368 men hospitalized with confirmed coronavirus infection at VA centers who died or were discharged by April 11, 2020. However, the research, which has not yet been accepted for publication in a medical journal, was not the result of a clinical trial.

Across the globe due to the severe threat posed by the new coronavirus, it has been encouraged sharing within the scientific community of “preprints” – the practice of researchers posting their findings prior to external checks, scrutiny, or validation. Meanwhile, the study mentioned researchers finding that the risk of death was more than double in those who received hydroxychloroquine after taking patients’ individual characteristics into account.

The Drug Proved No Beneficial for the Treatment

As per the study, hydroxychloroquine was also found less effective for the treatment on a patients’ need for breathing support while the rates of mechanical ventilation were 13% for those who got the drug versus 14% for patients who received only supportive care.

Although the drug was not yet proved to be effective against COVID-19, doctors have claimed that they were generally comfortable with trying the inexpensive drug, which has also been used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Dr. Jeremy Falk, a pulmonary specialist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, who was not involved in the VA study, stated, “Some publications in the last week or two have shed doubt on whether hydroxychloroquine is beneficial.”  Citing that now things would be starting to change, Falk added, “We were using it on just about everybody early on. Now we are using it more sparingly.”

Currently, the US government has been conducting a wide range of clinical tests for the drug to find an answer whether it has a major role to play in the treatment of the pandemic that had infected more than 2.5 million people worldwide and killed about 176,000.

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