Scientists were unable to confirm that hydroxychloroquine, the controversial malaria drug that has been repeatedly promoted by President Donald Trump, provided any benefit for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, according to a study published on Friday in The Lancet medical journal.
Not only was there no benefit, but the drug, when used alone or in combination with a macrolide antibiotic, was also associated with decreased in-hospital survival rates and an increased frequency of sped-up heart rates.
"These findings suggest that these drug regimens should not be used outside of clinical trials and urgent confirmation from randomized clinical trials is needed," the Lancet wrote.
Researchers studied data from 671 hospitals on six continents for patients hospitalized between December 20, 2019 and April 14, 2020 with positive SARS-COV2 tests.
They separated patients into two categories: those that received hydroxychloroquine treatments within 48 hours of diagnosis, and those who received no treatment as the control group.
Of the more than 96,000 patients who were hospitalized and were included in the study, nearly 15,000 were in the hydroxychloroquine group.
Those in the hydroxychloroquine treatment group had a higher death rate compared to a mortality rate of 9.3% in the control group.
This data lead researches to conclude that:
We were unable to confirm a benefit of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, when used alone or with a macrolide, on in-hospital outcomes for COVID-19. Each of these drug regimens was associated with decreased in-hospital survival and an increased frequency of ventricular arrhythmias when used for treatment of COVID-19 .
Earlier this week, President Donald Trump said that he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventative for the coronavirus for more than a week.
Trump has long touted the unproven use for the drug, in spite of FDA warnings that the antimalarial medication has been linked to “serious heart rhythm problems” in patients with coronavirus.