The World Health Organization on Wednesday halted trials of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for the coronavirus, claiming it had showed no benefit in reducing the mortality rate, AFP reported.
The announcement came two days after the United States Food and Drug Administration revoked its emergency use authorisation for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. US President Donald Trump has frequently touted the drugs for its effectiveness to stave off Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and has even claimed to have used it himself.
The drug’s withdrawal was announced by Dr Ana Maria Henao Restrepo from the WHO’s health emergencies programme at a virtual press conference in Geneva on Wednesday.
“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,” Restrepo said.
Based on the analysis, the Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial met on two occasions after which they met all the principal investigators on Wednesday, she added. “After deliberation, they have concluded that the hydroxychloroquine arm will be stopped from the Solidarity Trial.”
On May 25, the WHO had temporarily suspended trials of hydroxychloroquine, after a report in medical journal The Lancet claimed that it could increase patient mortality rate in hospitals. The study also found that those administered the drug showed a higher frequency of arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat.
However, earlier this month, the journal retracted the study, after three of its authors said they could no longer vouch for its veracity as the healthcare firm that supplied the records would not allow an independent review of its dataset.
The WHO on June 3 said that it will resume clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine.