Hydroxychloroquine is found to be useful in treating autoimmune diseases like lupus and also for rheumatoid arthritis. It is now being studied for use in COVID-19 patients. Even President of the United States touted it as a game-changer in current practice to prevent the infection. But the report from The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine showed that the drug that taken either alone or with an antibiotic to treat patients with COVID-19 was of no benefit and increased a patient’s risk of cardiac death.
The study published in The Lancet involved almost 96,000 coronavirus patients across 671 hospitals all over the world. Doctors administered hydroxychloroquine or its related drugs with or without antibiotics to nearly 15,000 patients. They found that the patients were more likely to develop heart rhythm complications leading to death. The death rate of patients treated with hydroxychloroquine was 18%, and those treated with chloroquine were 26.4%. These findings have influenced many countries to ban the use of hydroxychloroquine and also halts the ongoing drug trials of the World Health Organization (WHO); however, they have started it again from June 3.
The New England Journal of Medicine study also analyzed 8,910 COVID-19 patients and found that the drugs failed to prevent coronavirus symptoms and also increases cardiac risk.
Retraction of the findings
The authors of these studies retracted their findings because independent auditors weren’t able to access all the information needed to verify the data. The whole data was collected by a private company called Surgisphere, a Chicago based company whose founder named Sapan Desai. The study published in Lancet attracted criticism from various scientists, and hence it required Surgisphere to transfer their database for evaluation. Surgisphere agreed to review, but the third party reviewers said the Lancet that they were not able to access all the data because it might violent client agreements and confidentiality requirements. It was this failure that made the authors retract the paper.
Anyways, it was not only the study that tells about the adverse effects of hydroxychloroquine. Researchers from the University of Minnesota also declares the ineffectiveness of the drug against coronavirus after undergoing some clinical trial. The FDA also said that the drug should only be used in a clinical trial under careful medical supervision with emergency authorization. As the Lancet study was withdrawn, it won’t create much change in the research because other study findings proved the same concept consistently.
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