New study finds hydroxychloroquine ineffective at treating COVID-19

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Another study has found that an antimalarial drug touted by President Trump and his top advisers is not effective at treating COVID-19 and may cause adverse effects.

The study, published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that hydroxychloroquine did not improve outcomes for the 667 COVID-19 patients participating in a randomized trial at 55 Brazilian hospitals.

In the study, patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 illness were split into three groups, in which one group received hydroxychloroquine, another group received the drug along with azithromycin — an antibiotic — and the last group received neither.

All groups received standard care for COVID-19.

The study found a seven-day course of hydroxychloroquine, with or without the antibiotic, did not result in better outcomes.

The study is the latest to show hydroxychloroquine is not effective at treating COVID-19, despite initial hype among doctors, scientists and politicians that led to global shortages of the drug.

Some studies have found that the drug can cause adverse effects in COVID-19 patients. In the study published Thursday, patients who took hydroxychloroquine with or without the antibiotic were more likely to experience adverse events, including heart rhythm irregularities, than patients who received the drug alone.

Patients who received neither drug were least likely to experience adverse effects.

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has revoked an emergency use authorization that allowed doctors to treat COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine outside of clinical trials.

However, the White House began pushing the FDA to reverse course after a widely-criticized study at Detroit’s Henry Ford Health System found death rates were lower for patients treated with hydroxychloroquine.

Scientists have criticized the study as less rigorous than three other studies that showed hydroxychloroquine is not effective to treat COVID-19 because the drug was not randomly prescribed to patients.

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