French doctors have been banned from prescribing hydroxychloroquine to Covid-19 patients, the government ruled Wednesday.
The French Health Ministry revoked its authorization for the drug to be given to those with coronavirus, saying that the scientific data available at present does not provide sufficient “evidence of a benefit” to support its use.
Data considered by France’s High Council for Public Health found evidence to suggest a link between the use of hydroxychloroquine and “cardiac toxicity,” particularly when used in combination with the azithromycin – an antibiotic used to treat chest infection and other types of infection, according to a Health Ministry statement.
It added that the benefits and risks of this treatment may be reassessed in the future, as new data from clinical research emerges.
Some context: The announcement comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday said it had temporarily halted the study of hydroxychloroquine as a potential Covid-19 treatment in its Solidarity Trial, due to safety concerns.
The WHO’s decision was made after an observational study, published in the medical journal The Lancet on Friday, described how seriously ill Covid-19 patients who were treated with hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were more likely to die or develop irregular heart rhythms.
"Our data has very convincingly shown that across the world in a real-world population that this drug combination, whichever way you slice it or dice it, does not show any evidence of benefit, and in fact is immutably showing a signal of grave harm," said Dr. Mandeep Mehra, the study’s lead author.