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Highly anticipated hydroxychloroquine study shows no benefit, increased risk for COVID-19 patients

Disappointing results

An employee of a Syrian pharmaceutical factory shows pills of the hydroxychloroquine drug. (LOUAI BESHARA/AFP via Getty Images)

An analysis of more than 1,000 COVID-19 patients in New York found no noticeable benefit in using hydroxychloroquine to treat the disease caused by the novel coronavirus from Wuhan, China, Politico reported.

The research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, also affirmed recent research indicating that patients who took hydroxychloroquine, especially in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin, were at higher risk for cardiac issues.

The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization in March to allow hydroxychloroquine to be used to treat COVID-19 after some physicians and researchers in the United States and abroad provided anecdotal evidence of the anti-malarial drug's potential effectiveness against the coronavirus.

President Donald Trump was an early vocal advocate for the use of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment, despite reservations from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top public health adviser on the White House coronavirus response task force. Enthusiasm about the drug's promise has diminished in recent weeks as studies have not found evidence of its effectiveness.

Remdesivir is now seen as the drug with the most potential as a coronavirus treatment, although early studies have produced results that are mixed and, so far, unclear.

A study that was conducted from Feb. 6 to March 12 among more than 200 adult patients in severe condition in China's Hubei province found that "Remdesivir use was not associated with a difference in time to clinical improvement" when compared to patients receiving placebo treatments.

The results of the study were published on April 29 in The Lancet, and noted that 66% of the remdesivir patients suffered "adverse events" leading doctors to stop the treatment for 12% of them.

More clinical studies of remdesivir are being conducted in the United States, including studies by Gilead Sciences and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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