Hydroxychloroquine does not work on patients hospitalized with Covid-19, according to research published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). It’s the latest of several studies to find the antimalarial does not work against the coronavirus.
"These findings do not support the use of hydroxychloroquine for treatment of Covid-19 among hospitalized adults,” wrote Dr. Wesley Self, of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Department of Emergency Medicine, and colleagues.
The randomized trial involved 479 Covid-19 patients at 34 US hospitals with respiratory illness. Some received hydroxychloroquine and some received a placebo.
The results found strong evidence that hydroxychloroquine is "not beneficial" for adults hospitalized with Covid-19, and "no significant difference between the hydroxychloroquine and placebo groups."
The trial had several limitations, including that it only included hospitalized adults and only one dosage level of hydroxychloroquine. It did not consider whether patients used other therapies, such as azithromycin, zinc or remdesivir.
In a corresponding JAMA editorial, Dr. Michael Saag, a researcher with the Department of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, noted President Donald Trump’s early support of hydroxychloroquine as a Covid-19 treatment, and wrote that politicization was an important factor in promoting use of the drug.
"The clear, unambiguous, and compelling lesson from the hydroxychloroquine story for the medical community and the public is that science and politics do not mix," Saag wrote. "The number of articles in the peer-reviewed literature over the last several months that have consistently and convincingly demonstrated the lack of efficacy of a highly hyped 'cure' for COVID-19 represent the consequence of the irresponsible infusion of politics into the world of scientific evidence and discourse."
The US Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine on March 28 after a big push from Trump and his administration, but revoked it on June 15.