WHO halts hydroxychloroquine trials after failure to reduce death

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Saturday it is halting its trials of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and HIV treatment lopinavir-ritonavir in patients hospitalized with the coronavirus after results showed the drugs did not reduce mortality rates.

“These interim trial results show that hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir produce little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalized COVID-19 patients when compared to standard of care. Solidarity trial investigators will interrupt the trials with immediate effect,” the WHO said in a statement, referencing multicountry trials it is conducting. 

The group, a United Nations agency, said it was ending the tests on the recommendation of the drug trial’s international steering committee. The pause does not impact other studies in which the drugs are used for patients who are not hospitalized. 

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The WHO is also examining the potential effect of remdesivir, an anti-viral drug from Gilead, on COVID-19.

The WHO’s announcement comes two days after a study was released linking the use of hydroxychloroquine by COVID-19 patients to lower death rates.

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

Studies have offered a scattershot assessment of hydroxychloroquine’s effectiveness in battling the coronavirus. The Food and Drug Administration earlier this year yanked the drug's emergency use authorization, citing data from a large randomized controlled trial that showed no difference between using hydroxychloroquine and standard COVID-19 treatment. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE had emerged as a chief cheerleader for the drug, at one point even saying he was taking it himself as a preventative measure.