WHO ending hydroxychloroquine trial for COVID

Coronavirus

A new study finds no evidence of benefit from a malaria drug widely promoted as a treatment for coronavirus infection. Hydroxychloroquine did not lower the risk of dying or needing a breathing tube in a comparison that involved nearly 1,400 consecutive patients treated at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York. (AP Photo/John Locher)

BERLIN — The World Health Organization says it is ending a trial into whether anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine helps patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

WHO said Saturday it has “accepted the recommendation” from the committee overseeing the trial to discontinue testing of hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir, a drug combination used to treat HIV/AIDS. The drugs were being compared with standard care for hospitalized patients.

WHO says a review of the interim results showed hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir “produce little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalized COVID-19 patients when compared to standard of care.”

The agency adds that while there was no “solid evidence” of increased mortality for hospitalized patients given the drugs, there were “some associated safety signals in the clinical laboratory findings” of an associated trial.

WHO says the decision won’t affect possible trials on patients who aren’t hospitalized, or on those receiving the drugs before potential exposure to the coronavirus or shortly afterward.

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