Large Study Finds No Benefit — and Potential Harm — in Using Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19
In the largest observational study thus far investigating the drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, researchers found little evidence that it helps, and worrying evidence that the medication may cause harm. In a study published May 22 in the journal Lancet, scientists in the U.S. and Switzerland report on an analysis of more than 96,000 people hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 in 671 hospitals on six continents. Nearly 15,000 patients were treated with one of the following: chloroquine (which is an older version of hydroxychloroquine), hydroxychloroquine, or either of those drugs in combination with an antibiotic. The remainder did not receive any of these medications and served as the control. People in any of the four treatment groups were more likely to die during their hospitalization than those not treated. People receiving either chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine alone were 16% to 18% more likely to die in the hospital compared to those not receiving the medications, and those treated with these medications in combination with an antibiotic were 22% to 24% more likely to die in the hospital. These risks remained significant even after the researchers controlled for factors such as smoking, underlying heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, or immune conditions. In addition, those receiving the medications had higher risk of developing abnormal heart rhythms — a known risk factor of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine — compared to people who...
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