WHO Temporarily Suspends Clinical Trials of Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine

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Posted: May 25, 2020 3:18 PM
WHO Temporarily Suspends Clinical Trials of Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine

Source: AP Photo/John Locher

The World Health Organization on Monday announced that it is temporarily suspending clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug that some Wuhan coronavirus patients have been given, and chloroquine. Michigan State Rep. Karen Whitsett (D) credited the drug with saving her life when she came down with the virus. President Donald Trump has advocated for the use of the drug and even went so far as to take the drug to prevent catching the coronavirus.

"The executive group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity trial while the safety data is reviewed by the data safety monitoring board. The other arms of the trial are continuing," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in an online press conference.

According to Dr. Tedros, the decision to suspend the trial comes after The Lancet, a medical journal, published a student about the effects of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.

"The authors reported that among COVID-19 patients receiving the drug, when used alone or with macrolide, they estimate a higher fatality rate," Tedros said. "The Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial, representing 10 of the participating countries, met on Saturday and has agreed to review a comprehensive analysis and critical appraisal of all evidence available globally. The review will consider data collected so far in the Solidarity Trial and, in particular robust randomized available data, to adequately evaluate the potential benefits and harms from this drug."

The Director-General said that although the two drugs could be harmful to those using them to treat the Wuhan coronavirus, it is still safe for people to take them to treat malaria and autoimmune diseases. 

WHO's emergencies chief, Dr. Michael Ryan, said there have been no safety issues in the organization's trials. 

"We're just acting on an abundance of caution based on the recent results of all the studies to ensure that we can continue safely with that arm of the trial,” he said, according to Fox News.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning in late April about the drugs' effects.

"Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19. They are being studied in clinical trials for COVID-19, and we authorized their temporary use during the COVID-19 pandemic for treatment of the virus in hospitalized patients when clinical trials are not available, or participation is not feasible, through an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)," the agency stated.