Study ties hydroxychloroquine use to lower COVID-19 death rate

A study released Thursday links the use of hydroxychloroquine by COVID-19 patients to lower death rates, as health experts around the country try to find an effective treatment to combat the pandemic.

The study, conducted by Michigan's Henry Ford Health System, states that hydroxychloroquine, the controversial anti-malarial drug heralded by the White House as a potential treatment for the coronavirus, "significantly" lowered the mortality rate among COVID-19 patients.

In patients who received the drug, the death rate was 13 percent as compared to a death rate of 26.4 percent in patients who weren't administered the treatment.

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“The findings have been highly analyzed and peer-reviewed,” Marcus Zervos, co-author of the study and division head of Infectious Disease for Henry Ford Health System, said in a statement. “We attribute our findings that differ from other studies to early treatment, and part of a combination of interventions that were done in supportive care of patients, including careful cardiac monitoring. Our dosing also differed from other studies not showing a benefit of the drug."

However, several weeks ago the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yanked hydroxychloroquine's emergency use authorization, citing data from a large randomized controlled trial that showed no difference between using hydroxychloroquine and standard COVID-19 treatment.

Doctors have also warned that the drug, mainly used to combat malaria and lupus, could cause fatal cardiac problems.

Earlier this week, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said that its global trials of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, another anti-malarial drug, would resume Friday.