DURBAN – The World Health Organization has announced that it has stopped trials examining the potential of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the novel coronavirus after its multi-country trials showed “no benefit.”
Last month the WHO paused tests of the anti-malarial drug after a review published in The Lancet stated potentially fatal health problems, however, it restarted trials after this paper was retracted.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the WHO said the decision was based on evidence from the Solidarity Trial itself, as well as from a UK-led trial that had found the drug did not help Covid-19 patients, and from a review of other evidence on hydroxychloroquine.
“Patients who had already started hydroxychloroquine but who have not yet finished their course in the trial may complete their course or stop at the discretion of the supervising physician,” added the organization.
The malaria and rheumatoid arthritis drug hydroxychloroquine has been at the centre of political and scientific controversy. It has been touted as a possible treatment for the new coronavirus by high profile figures, including US President Donald Trump.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday revoked its emergency use authorization of the drug that President Trump said previously he supported and used, saying it was no longer reasonable to believe that hydroxychloroquine and the related drug chloroquine would be effective in treating the disease.
“The internal evidence from the Solidarity/Discovery Trial, the external evidence from the Recovery Trial and the combined evidence from these large randomised trials, brought together, suggest that hydroxychloroquine—when compared with the standard of care in the treatment of hospitalised Covid-19 patients—does not result in the reduction of the mortality of those patients,” said Dr Ana Maria Henao Restrepo, from the WHO’s health emergencies programme.
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