COVID-19: Three important points about hydroxychloroquine trials still going on expert comment26 May 2020
Professor Parastou Donyai from the School of Pharmacy at the University of Reading provides the following expert comment about a number of trials of hydroxychloroquine ongoing as well as the WHO trial which has been halted:
Prof Donyai said:
"The media was last week reporting a new trial of hydroxychloroquine for the coronavirus. In theory, this is to be welcomed – scientific studies are the only way of truly judging whether a drug works for a particular condition. But the publicity last week created the impression that this was the first trial of hydroxychloroquine during the current pandemic. It is important to be clear about three things.
"Firstly, the trial that was being reported last week is not for the treatment of COVID-19 – instead, the study, known as COPCOV is looking at whether hydroxychloroquine (and chloroquine) can stop healthcare workers from catching the coronavirus in the first place. This is different to treating the disease.
"Secondly, trials examining the effect of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19 have been underway for some months. For example, the RECOVERY trial has been testing if different drugs, including hydroxychloroquine, will be better than standard care for patients in hospital with COVID-19.
"Thirdly, we heard yesterday that following the recent publication of a paper in The Lancet, a credible medical journal, the WHO has for now stopped giving hydroxychloroquine as part of its Solidarity Trial. Instead, scientists will be looking hard at all the information they have collected so far to try and work out if the drug has done more harm than good. Only then will they go back to including hydroxychloroquine in the Solidarity Trial.
"Does this mark the end of the road for hydroxychloroquine? The simple answer is ‘no’. The RECOVERY trial for example is continuing to include hydroxychloroquine as part of its investigation. But this could change if scientists examining the safety of hydroxychloroquine as part of the Solidarity Trial come back with strong evidence to confirm worries about its harm, raised elsewhere including in The Lancet paper."