In a new study, researchers found no evidence that anti-viral drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine could treat COVID-19.
In fact, these drugs may increase the risk of death in patients.
The research was conducted by a team at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Hydroxychloroquine is normally used to treat arthritis. Chloroquine is an anti-malarial. Both drugs can produce potentially serious side effects, particularly heart arrhythmia.
In the study, the team analyzed the records of 96,000 patients across hundreds of hospitals.
They compared outcomes from four groups: those treated with hydroxychloroquine alone, with chloroquine alone, and then two groups were given the respective drugs in combination with antibiotics.
There was also a control group of patients not given these treatments.
The team found that using these drugs actually increased the risk of dying.
At the end of the study, about 9% of patients in the control group died.
In those treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine alone, 18% and 16.4%respectively had died.
And those given each drug in combination with antibiotics were even more likely to die: 22.8% with chloroquine and 23.8% with hydroxychloroquine.
The team says that the drugs put patients at up to 45%higher risks of dying from COVID-19 compared with underlying health issues.
There is no health benefit for patients with COVID-19. Instead, the drugs may be linked to an increased risk of serious heart problems and an increased risk of death.
The lead author of the study is Mandeep Mehra, the executive director of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Center for Advanced Heart Disease in Boston.
The study is published in The Lancet.
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