Recently, the much-touted hydroxychloroquine has been in the news for the treatment of coronavirus disease. Does this medicine work against COVID-19? Let’s see the hydroxychloroquine uses, hydroxychloroquine side effects and its impact on COVID-19 in this blog.
What is hydroxychloroquine?
Hydroxychloroquine is a medicine that treats malaria, lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. This medicine comes only as an oral tablet. It is first approved to treat Malaria, which is a disease transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Hydroxychloroquine is not effective against all strains of Malaria. In the United States, it is sold under the brand name Plaquenil.
Is hydroxychloroquine effective for COVID-19?
Many people are influenced by reports on Twitter and in news, but the findings are yet to be backed by proper clinical trials.
In a clinical trial conducted in China, patients with relatively mild COVID-19 who were treated with hydroxychloroquine showed significant improvement when compared to patients who were treated with standard care alone. But a combination of hydroxychloroquine medicine and azithromycin was evaluated in France to the patients with COVID-19 showed clinical improvement. Though these findings look positive, the hydroxychloroquine benefits of this drug are now in question. There isn’t much information about the patients who received this drug, or what dose they took and for how long.
Some studies show that they had to stop the treatment after using the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin due to side effects. Some used only hydroxychloroquine and there were adverse effects of hydroxychloroquine though they were mostly mild. Few studies did not have a control group to compare patients.
There has been no proper evidence or studies showing that hydroxychloroquine work for prevention. But hydroxychloroquine can interfere with heart rhythms, leading to sudden cardiac arrest.
Hydroxychloroquine side effects
All medicines may have side effects. The most common adverse effects of this medicine are stomach pain, diarrhoea, headache, vomiting, nausea, liver and kidney problems and nervous system problems. It can also cause serious heart rhythm complications. Children are very sensitive to this drug.
In Australia, clinical trials continue. But Canada warns against the use of hydroxychloroquine as it can have serious side effects. As there are insufficient clinical data, the safety and efficacy of the medicine are still unclear. But there are two big multi-centric trials which will be done for pre & post-exposure prophylaxis amongst healthcare workers and high-risk contacts. However, Hydroxychloroquine is one of the better options to be used for prevention and treatment as of now.