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Current Affairs

Hydroxychloroquine fails another test

Date: 09 May 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine has failed another test to check its efficacy in treating the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), with patients admitted to hospitals showing no change in their conditions after being administered the medicine.

 

Background

The observational study showed that doctors reported that the use of hydroxycholoquine neither lessened the need for patients requiring breathing assistance nor the risk of death.

 

Details

  • The study found that the risk of intubation or death was not significantly higher or lower among consecutive patients who were given hydroxychloroquine compared to those who were not given the drug. 

  • The findings come two weeks after the US Food and Drug Administration warned the public against using hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine without prescription or supervision because of reports of “serious heart rhythm problems” in patients treated with the malaria drugs.

  • Hydroxychloroquine is the only drug approved for treating hospitalised Covid-19 patients in India, where it is given in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin.

  • It is also being given to health care workers and people at risk of exposure as a prophylaxis for Covid-19, which leads to potentially fatal complications in some patients.

  • The cheap and widely available drug that has been used to treat malaria for at least a century emerged as the most sought-after medicine after two preliminary trials in Covid-19 patients in China in March showed it boosted recovery and lowered the severity of Covid-19.

  • Apart from malaria, hydroxychloroquine is prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Several countries including India, China, France, South Korea, Italy, India and the United States are using anti-malarials to treat people severely ill with Covid-19.

  • Anti-malarials work by decreasing the acidity in endosomes, which are compartments within cells that some viruses hijack to enter the cell and cause infection.

  • The doorway used by Sars-Cov-2 is the spike protein on its surface that it uses to attach to a receptor on the surface of human cells, but studies in cell culture have suggested chloroquines have some activity against the virus.

  • Observational studies aren’t considered as conclusive as randomised-controlled trials because clinicians often use several drugs and therapies to treat patients. More rigorous clinical trials are needed to establish the effectiveness of the drug.