The World Health Organization says it has “temporarily” suspended clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19.
The decision was announced on Monday after the publication last week of a study in the Lancet indicating that using the drug on COVID-19 patients could increase their likelihood of dying.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO president told a virtual press conference that the executive group of the so-called Solidarity Trial, in which hundreds of hospitals across several countries have enrolled patients to test several possible treatments for the novel coronavirus, had as a precaution suspended trials using that drug.
“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,” Tedros said.
“The other arms of the trial are continuing,” he stressed.
According to the Lancet study found, both drugs can produce potentially serious side effects, particularly heart arrhythmia.
The study further showed that the drug did not benefit patients hospitalised with COVID-19, after looking at the records of 96,000 patients across hundreds of hospitals.
Tedros stressed Monday that the two drugs “are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria.”