Hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug being touted by many as the “game-changer” medicine in the fight against the novel coronavirus has again failed to show a benefit in patients hospitalized with COVID-19. According to a study released on Thursday, doctors reported that the use of hydroxychloroquine neither lessened the need for patients requiring breathing assistance nor the risk of death.
Among patients administered hydroxychloroquine, 32.3% ended up needing a ventilator or dying, compared with 14.9% of patients who were not given the drug. “We didn’t see any association between getting this medicine and the chance of dying or being intubated,” lead researcher Dr. Neil Schluger told Reuters in a telephone interview. “The patients who got the drug didn’t seem to do any better.”
Limited studies, including one done in China, had suggested hydroxychloroquine might be useful, “but these were tiny studies and not of good quality. People seized on them because patients were dying,” Dr. Schluger, chief of the division of pulmonary, allergy and critical care medicine at Irving, said. But for now, he added, “the guidance in our hospital has changed so we don’t recommend giving hydroxychloroquine to hospitalized patients.”