President Donald Trump, who received 150,000 deaths from COVID-19 and 4 million confirmed cases in the United States, continues to talk about unproven coronavirus treatment. Although some treatments have been shown to improve survival or reduce the severity of the disease, leading infectious disease experts, doctors and virologists say it’s time to stop advertising that doesn’t have: hydroxychloroquine.
“There’s no reason to keep talking about hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19,” said Dr. Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease specialist at Emory University School of Medicine, to NBC News. “It doesn̵7;t work for treatment or prevention. I have no idea why they still talk about it, but it’s wrong. “
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Numerous clinical trials have not shown that hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug approved for the treatment of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, helps hospitalized patients. Other studies have shown that the drug was not useful for patients with mild disease. Warning of possible dangerous side effects from improper use, the Food and Drug Administration has revoked the authorization for emergency use of the drug, stating that it is unlikely to be effective against the virus.
“Scientific data, aggregate trial data, namely clinical trials that have been randomized and properly monitored. All of these trials have consistently shown that hydroxychloroquine is not effective,” said Dr. Anthony Fouchie, the country’s leading infectious disease physician. Andrea Mitchell on Wednesday from MSNBC.
And yet Trump, who says he used drugs in May, again promoted drugs during a briefing this week. “Many doctors believe it is extremely successful. Hydroxychloroquine combines with zinc and possibly azithromycin.”
This week, other politicians got into a hydroxychloroquine fight. The Ohio State Pharmacy Council lifted the ban on the release of the drug for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 at the request of Republican Mike DeWine. A rep. Louis Homert, Texas, who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19, told Fox News late Wednesday that he would be taking hydroxychloroquine along with azithromycin and zinc after talking to a doctor. Homer said he had no symptoms.
Dr. Peter Hottes, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said he believes the White House often raises hydroxychloroquine because it does not want to do the hard work needed to contain the outbreak. “Thus, they replace such magical solutions as hydroxychloroquine,” Hotes told NBC News. “It’s a strategy born of laziness and fear.”
There is no cure for COVID-19, and of the 57,000 hospitalized patients in the United States, there is currently concern about a shortage of proven treatments such as remdezivir. At the same time, there is an excess of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus. White House Director of Trade and Production Policy Peter Navarro said this week that US emergency supplies “sit on millions of doses” of the drug.
With no evidence to support the use of hydroxychloroquine, the FDA rapporteur, Dr. Stephen Hahn, said Thursday that the patient’s doctor’s decision depends.
Asked whether patients should take hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19, Gan acknowledged the possible harms. “We had data that when this drug was combined with others, there was some risk,” Gan said on NBC’s Segodnya show. “But the question you ask me is the decision between doctor and patient.”
Interest in hydroxychloroquine began in March after a French scientist published a study that showed that the drug in combination with azithromycin was an effective treatment for COVID-19. The study has since been widely discussed, and the scientific community that published the study later acknowledged that the article did not meet its standards.
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In early June, a study published by The Lancet found that hydroxychloroquine not only did no good but also potentiated harm, but the study was withdrawn after concerns about the data.
However, a number of other studies have repeatedly concluded that hydroxychloroquine is not an effective treatment for coronavirus, including the results of three large randomized controlled trials.
On June 5, a trial at UK RECOVERY announced that the first randomized controlled trial of hydroxychloroquine had shown that it was ineffective in hospitalized patients. Since then, both the National Institutes of Health study and a trial supported by the World Health Organization have been suspended because patients who use drugs are not much better than patients without it.
Dr. Esther Choo, an emergency medicine physician in the Oregon Health Sciences, believes that many studies may be difficult to understand because of meaningful data that will add to the public confusion.
“Early observational studies continue to be reworked,” Choo told NBC News. – It is difficult for the general public to understand that such studies are not as useful for determining the effect of drugs as controlled trials of the drug.
Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University, called the politicization of hydroxychloroquine “extremely dangerous to public health.”
“This diverts attention and resources from other drugs in development that may be more effective and, at worst, may lead people to use ineffective treatments rather than seeking care for COVID-19,” she wrote in an email.
Researchers agree that the United States should focus on finding effective treatments.
“Let’s put the last nail in the hydroxychloroquine coffin and move on,” del Rio said.
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