WHO cancels clinical trials with hydroxychloroquine

On Monday, the World Health Organization announced the “temporary” suspension of hydroxychloroquine clinical trials with partners in several countries. The decision follows the publication of a study that found the treatment ineffective, even harmful, for patients with Covid-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Monday, May 25, that it has “temporarily” suspended clinical trials with hydroxychloroquine, which it is conducting with its partners in several countries, as a precautionary measure.

The decision made on Saturday follows the publication of a study the day before, in the medical journal The Lancet Given the ineffective, even harmful, use of chloroquine or its derivatives as hydroxychloroquine against Covid-19, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said during a virtual press conference.

Increased risk of death and arrhythmia

More than two months ago, WHO initiated clinical trials including hydroxychloroquine, called “Solidarity,” to find effective treatment for Covid-19.

Currently, more than 400 hospitals in 35 countries are actively recruiting patients and almost 3,500 patients have been recruited in 17 countries, says the WHO chief.

According to the large study published in The Lancet, neither chloroquine nor its derivative hydroxychloroquine proves effective against coronavirus in hospitalized patients, and these molecules even increase the risk of death and heart rhythm.

Suspended while data is “being reviewed”

The study analyzed data from approximately 96,000 patients infected with the Sars-CoV-2 virus admitted to 671 hospitals between December 2019 and April 2020, discharged or then killed. About 15,000 of them received one of the four combinations (chloroquine alone or in combination with the antibiotic, hydroxychloroquine alone or in combination with the same antibiotic), then these four groups were compared with the 81,000 patients in control group n who did not receive this treatment.

The trials conducted by the WHO and its partners on hydroxychloroquine will be suspended until the “data” collected by the trials “has been reviewed”, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“This is a temporary measure,” Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Head of the Scientific Department at WHO.

Autoimmune diseases or malaria

Hydroxychloroquine is a chloroquine derivative, prescribed for several decades against malaria. Known in France as Plaquénil, hydroxychloroquine is prescribed for lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

Since the end of February, the treatment has known unprecedented notoriety since French professor Didier Raoult published several studies, which he says show an effect of hydroxychloroquine associated with an antibiotic, azithromycin, on the corona virus.

The tension around hydroxychloroquine gained momentum as US President Donald Trump made himself an apostle, so it took it daily as a preventive measure. In Brazil, the Ministry of Health has recommended that it be used for all mildly affected patients.

On Monday, the WHO chief wanted to remind that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine “are generally recognized as safe for patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria”.

With AFP