The National Institutes of Health announced Thursday afternoon government scientists have started clinical trials on hydroxychloroquine, a drug that doctors have successfully used to treat a number of Wuhan coronavirus patients.
"A clinical trial has begun to evaluate whether the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, given together with the antibiotic azithromycin, can prevent hospitalization and death from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, is sponsoring the trial, which is being conducted by the NIAID-funded AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG). Teva Pharmaceuticals is donating medications for the study," NIH released Thursday. "The investigators anticipate that many of those enrolled will be 60 years of age or older or have a comorbidity associated with developing serious complications from COVID-19, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes."
Trial participants, which will total 2,000, must test positive for Wuhan coronavirus. The first person to enter the trial did so today in San Diego.
“We urgently need a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19. Repurposing existing drugs is an attractive option because these medications have undergone extensive testing, allowing them to move quickly into clinical trials and accelerating their potential approval for COVID-19 treatment,” Dr. Anthony Fauci released in a statement. “Although there is anecdotal evidence that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin may benefit people with COVID-19, we need solid data from a large randomized, controlled clinical trial to determine whether this experimental treatment is safe and can improve clinical outcomes.”
Since Wuhan coronavirus reached the United States in January, a number of doctors have prescribed hydroxychloroquine to patients suffering from the disease.
Michigan State Representative Karen Whitsett, a democrat, credits the drug for her survival.
A recent survey from healthcare firm Jackson & Corker, which spoke to doctors in all 50 states, found 65 percent would prescribe the drug to a family member if they contracted Wuhan coronavirus.
"Sixty-five percent of physicians across the United States said they would prescribe the anti-malaria drugs chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine to treat or prevent COVID-19 in a family member," the survey, which questioned 1,271 doctors in 50 states, found. "Only 11 percent said they would not use the drug at all."