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Coronavirus: Do not take this medicine if you have Covid-19 – warns study

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, the scientific community has been fighting to find the right drugs to tame the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

Hydroxychloroquine from early on was included in the treatment protocol as appropriate prophylaxis after exposure to the virus, but also in the management of hospitalized patients with Covid-19 infection.

More than 560,000 prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine for the prevention, post-exposure, and treatment of COVID-19 were written in the United States alone in 2021.

Since the pandemic’s arrival in February 2020, the United States has been the epicentre of the pandemic and continues to be the world leader in cases and deaths. The 890,000 prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine written last year were nine times more than in previous years, resulting in severe shortages for the approved indications of autoimmune illness, primarily in younger women.

In a study published in The American Journal of Medicine, researchers at Schmidt College of Medicine at the Atlantic University of Florida re-evaluated data from large randomized trials and presented their findings on the contribution of hydroxychloroquine to prophylactic exposure and prophylaxis as a treatment for hospitalized patients.

“The updated randomized evidence provides even stronger support for the halt on prescribing hydroxychloroquine in the prevention or treatment of COVID-19,” said Dr Charles H. Hennekens a professor at Sir Richard Doll College in the United States.

According to the authors, in addition to a lack of meaningful benefit, the additional randomized evidence suggests a considerable risk of harm. They explain that the previously reassuring safety profile of hydroxychloroquine is applicable to patients with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, both of which are more common in younger and middle-aged women, and that the risks of fatal heart outcomes due to hydroxychloroquine are reassuringly very low.

In contrast, the risks of hydroxychloroquine for individuals with COVID-19 are much higher since fatal cardiovascular problems from these medicines are far more common in older patients and those with pre-existing heart disease or risk factors, both of which are more common in men.

“Premature and avoidable deaths will continue to occur if people take hydroxychloroquine and avoid the public health strategies of proven benefit, which include vaccinations and masking,” concludes Dr Hennekens.

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