Study: Drug touted by Trump not found to be effective for treating COVID-19

Posted at 4:45 PM, Apr 21, 2020

In one of the first large studies of the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine on coronavirus victims, researchers found no evidence that the drug is effective at treating the virus.

The study, which was conducted at Veterans Health Administration hospitals using a total of 368 patients, gave victims hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as coronavirus treatments.

The study found no evidence that hydroxychloroquine reduced the risk of mechanical ventilation in patients hospitalized with COVID-19. The study also found an increased overall mortality rate among those treated with hydroxychloroquine alone.

“These findings highlight the importance of awaiting the results of ongoing prospective, randomized, controlled studies before widespread adoption of these drugs,” the study’s authors said.

The study’s authors said that no effective therapy for COVID-19 has been identified. The authors said they expect further studies will continue on the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine.

Researchers from the VA Health Care System, University of Virginia and University of South Carolina were involved in the research.

Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the FDA said that the study is helpful to healthcare providers. Hahn added that the further randomized studies using a placebo will be needed to draw more conclusive conclusions.

"[The study is] something a doctor would need to consider when writing a prescription," Hahn said.

The drug for weeks was touted by President Donald Trump, despite skepticism from experts on the White House coronavirus task force.

"What do you have to lose?" Trump said earlier in April

At the April 4 briefing, Trump suggested he might take the drug.

"But I think people should — if it were me — in fact, I might do it anyway," Trump said. "I may take it. Okay? I may take it. And I’ll have to ask my doctors about that, but I may take it."

Hydroxychloroquine, a treatment that is commonly used to treat malaria and lupus, is provided as treatment for COVID-19 patients on an experimental basis.

The FDA previously gave an "emergency use authorization." An EUA allows doctors to use treatments by weighing potential benefits over potential risks.

"Hydroxychloroquine sulfate has not been approved for the treatment of COVID-19. It has been used experimentally to treat certain people with COVID-19, including hospitalized patients," the FDA said. "Hydroxychloroquine sulfate is being used to try and stop the COVID-19 virus from spreading inside your body. This may help you to get better."

The drug carries known side effects, including stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and headache, the FDA said.

To read the full study, click here.

Justin Boggs is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @jjboggs or on Facebook .