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Malaria drug touted for coronavirus treatment fails another test

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The malaria treatment repeatedly championed by U.S. President Donald Trump as a “game changer” in the fight against the novel coronavirus has again failed to show a benefit in patients hospitalized with COVID-19, according to a study released on Thursday.

While the study being published in the New England Journal of Medicine had certain limitations, doctors reported that the use of hydroxycholoquine neither lessened the need for patients requiring breathing assistance nor the risk of death.

“We didn’t see any association between getting this medicine and the chance of dying or being intubated,” lead researcher Dr. Neil Schluger told Reuters in a telephone interview. “The patients who got the drug didn’t seem to do any better.”

Among patients given hydroxychloroquine, 32.3% ended up needing a ventilator or dying, compared with 14.9% of patients who were not given the drug.

But doctors were more likely to give hydroxychloroquine to sicker patients, so researchers at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Irving Medical Center adjusted the rates to account for that. They concluded that the drug may not have hurt patients, but it clearly did not help.

Decades old hydroxychloroquine, which is also used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, also showed no benefit when combined with the antibiotic azithromycin, Schluger’s team reported. Azithromycin alone also showed no benefit.

Last month, doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reported that hydroxychloroquine did not help COVID-19 patients and might pose a higher risk of death.

Read more via Reuters

 

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