The decision, a precautionary measure that could be revised, has been taken after the publication of a study that indicated higher mortality rates in patients who had been treated with that drug.
The director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced today that the body will temporarily stop clinical trials with hydroxychloroquine in patients with COVID-19, as a higher mortality rate is detected in patients who received this treatment.
The decision, a precautionary measure that could be revised, has been made after the publication last Friday in the medical journal The Lancet of a study that indicated higher mortality rates in patients who had tried hydroxychloroquine treatments, commonly used against malaria.
“After reading the publication, we decided in light of these doubts to be cautious and temporarily suspend membership in this drug,” said WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan Chief Scientist.
After the pause in the trials, the WHO will continue to collect data to confirm those published by The Lancet and will review the decision at future meetings with medical officials from the countries that carry out the trials sponsored by the organization, under the Solidarity Trial program.
The precautionary measure, which could affect countries like Brazil (who last week had approved the widespread use of hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients) does not initially apply to chloroquine , of which the former is a derivative and that it is also included in WHO clinical trials.
More than 400 hospitals in 35 countries participate in the Solidarity Trials , in which 3,500 patients have been recruited.
Other WHO-sponsored clinical trials test patients antiviral remdesivir (usually used against Ebola), a combination of lopinavir and ritonavir (commonly used for HIV carriers) and interferon beta, a common treatment for multiple sclerosis.
What is hydroxychloroquine
Chloroquine has been prescribed for several decades against malaria , a parasite transmitted by the mosquito.
Its best-tolerated derivative, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), is prescribed against lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
Hydroxychloroquine has known, since the end of February, an unprecedented notoriety since Professor Didier Raoult, from the Institute and University Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Marseille, released a small, little detailed Chinese study, which stated that chloroquine phosphate showed signs of efficacy in SARS-Cov2 patients.
The effervescence around hydroxychloroquine intensified when Trump began taking it daily, as a preventive measure.
In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro is convinced of its effects, to the point that the Ministry of Health recommended its use on Wednesday for all mildly affected patients.
Beyond the political arena, hydroxychloroquine became a highly publicized topic of public and political debate, sparking heated exchanges in the media and fierce bottlenecks on social media.