Concerns over safety: WHO suspends HCQ arm of solidarity drug trial

Trial is being undertaken by 10 nations, including India

Concerns over safety: WHO suspends HCQ arm of solidarity drug trial

Photo for representation.

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, May 25

The WHO Executive Group on Monday temporarily suspended the hydroxychloroquine arm within the ongoing Solidarity Trial while the data is reviewed by its Data Safety Monitoring Board.

The trial is being undertaken by ten nations, including India, and is testing four drugs and combinations against COVID-19.

Of these four drugs, HCQ drug trial has been suspended, said WHO after The Lancet last Friday published a study that revealed greater risk of death among COVID patients who were administered the anti malarial HCQ.

“The other arms of the trial are continuing. The HCQ concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloraquine in COVID-19. These drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria. But in COVID patients they have showed adverse effects,” WHO said today.

The world body added that the review of HCQ efficacy will consider data collected so far in the Solidarity Trial and, in particular robust randomised available data, to adequately evaluate the potential benefits and harms from this drug.

WHO cited the Lancet observational study on hydroxycholoroquine and chloraquine and its effects on COVID-19 patients that have been hospitalised to say, “The authors reported that among COVID-19 patients receiving the drug, when used alone or with a macrolide, they estimated a higher mortality rate.”

The suspension of HCQ trial by WHO comes close on the heels of Indian ICMR expanding its use as a preventive drug in asymptotic health workers across all hospitals and in asymptotic COVID warriors in containment zones.

Over 400 hospitals in 35 countries are actively recruiting patients and nearly 3,500 patients have been enrolled from 17 countries for the WHO Solidarity Trial.

The remaining three drugs under the trial will continue to be tested.

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