The World Health Organization said on Saturday that it is ending a trial to find out whether anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine helps patients hospitalised with the Covid-19 coronavirus, AP reported.
WHO said it has accepted the recommendation of the committee overseeing the trial to discontinue it. The committee has also recommended that the trials of lopinavir/ritonavir, a drug combination used to treat HIV/AIDS, be scrapped, and WHO has accepted the advice.
The global health body said that interim results of the two trials showed that the drugs produce little or no reduction in the mortality rate of hospitalised coronavirus patients. However, there was also no solid evidence of increased mortality, WHO added.
The global health body said the stoppage of the trials will not affect possible trials on patients who aren’t hospitalised, or on those receiving the drugs before, or just after, exposure to the disease.
The United States Food and Drug Administration had on June 15 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.
On May 25, 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, in June, 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 chief of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, India’s largest chain of industrial laboratories, and two other scientists had criticised the study and said the decision to suspend trials of the drug was a “knee-jerk” reaction and opposed the move. India has sold large amounts of hydroxychloroquine to the United States and many other foreign countries.
Globally, over 1.1 crore people have so far been affected by the coronavirus, and more than 5.3 lakh have died, according to the Johns Hopkins University.