WHO suspends clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns
DPI, Guyana, Monday, May 25, 2020
The World Health Organization (WHO) today announced that it has suspended the clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Hydroxychloroquine is a drug used to prevent and treat malaria.
“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,” Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus disclosed in his media briefing on Monday
He said the WHO will be examining the safety concerns raised.
“The review 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.
On Friday, the Lancet published an observational study on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine and its effects on COVID-19 patients that have been hospitalised. The authors reported that among patients receiving the drug, when used alone or with a macrolide, they estimated a higher mortality rate.
More than two months ago WHO initiated the Solidarity Trial, to evaluate the safety and efficacy of four drugs and drug combinations against COVID-19.
Dr. Ghebreyesus had announced that over 400 hospitals in 35 countries are actively recruiting patients and nearly 3500 patients have been enrolled from 17 countries.
The Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial, representing 10 of the participating countries, met on Saturday and has agreed to review a comprehensive analysis and critical appraisal of all evidence available globally.
“I wish to reiterate that these drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria. The WHO will provide further updates as we know more,” Dr. Ghebreyesus stated.
It was also highlighted that the other arms of the clinical trial are continuing, since, “this concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in COVID-19.”
The Director-General assured that the WHO will continue to work ‘night and day’ for solutions, science and solidarity to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.