On May 18, U.S President Donald Trump was once again in the headlines after he told reporters that he was taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug that was used to treat autoimmune diseases, and a drug that the president said is a game-changer for the virus.
President Trump has been showing support of the drug, despite numerous studies and reports that have countered its effectiveness in treating patients with COVID-19. The president has tested negative for the virus, and on his latest briefing he suggests that he takes hydroxychloroquine to prevent getting infected, he even claimed that front liners are also taking it and has stated that it works.
However, the Food and Drug Administration or FDA has not approved the drug and has not stated that it is a preventative measure against COVID-19, and it is also not an authorized treatment for the virus. The FDA has warned the public about the use of the drug or chloroquine for COVID-19 outside of clinics or hospitals because it may cause heart rhythm problems.
Studies on frontliners
In April, the Henry Ford Health System launched the first study of hydroxychloroquine's effectiveness in the US to see if it can prevent front liners from getting COVID-19. Around 3,000 health workers and first responders were chosen to partake in the study that was done in Michigan.
They were given unmarked vials, one group was given a daily dose of hydroxychloroquine, the second group was given a weekly dose and the third was given a placebo.
According to a press release from the university, the second part of the study is a random clinical trial that began in April and they are now examining almost 600 first responders and health workers with 25 to 40 added every day. One group was given hydroxychloroquine and the second group was given a placebo so they can see if the drug is effective in decreasing the number of coronavirus infection.
The professor of Medicine in Cardiology at Duke, Dr. Adrian Hernandez, said that the program will conclude this summer, but the results may be released in the fall. Dr. Hernandez was asked about the comments of President Trump about the effectiveness of the drug and about how the health workers are using them too.
Dr. Hernandez clarified that health workers who are using hydroxychloroquine are part of an experiment, and he warned that the public should not take it as it could cause health problems.
Meanwhile, the FDA granted emergency authorization for doctors to use chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in March, but only for a limited set of coronavirus patients.
The FDA authorized the use of the drug as a potential treatment but only under the Emergency Use Authorization and the patients were under heart monitoring. Since then, numerous studies have used hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus but the FDA continues to warn people against using the drug without the presence of a doctor.
COVID-19 patients who were taking hydroxychloroquine still needed ventilators and the death rates were higher than patients who were not taking hydroxychloroquine. The most recent statement of the FDA about hydroxychloroquine is that it has not been shown to be safe nor does it have any effectiveness in treating COVID-19, which contradicts President Donald Trump's claims about the drug.