A new clinical study conducted in a major Detroit-area hospital system suggests that the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine was effective in lowering the death rate from coronavirus — contradicting other studies.
Several recent studies have suggested the opposite — that hydroxychloroquine provides no benefit to coronavirus patients, and may actually pose a risk of cardiac problems to some.
Many doctors prescribed the medication, and many took it themselves as a prophylactic, but clinical evidence for its effectiveness was lacking.
In May, two studies independently concluded that the drug was ineffective, as the University of Minnesota reported:
Results from two new studies, including the first randomized controlled trial, are providing further evidence that the antimalaria drug hydroxychloroquine may not help COVID-19 patients.
The two studies, published yesterday in BMJ, found that, when compared with standard treatment, the use of hydroxychloroquine did not increase the likelihood of virus elimination in Chinese patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19, nor did it have any effect on reducing admissions to intensive care or death in French patients with more severe illness. Both studies also found a higher rate of adverse events in patients treated with the drug.
The authors of both papers conclude that the results do not support the continued use hydroxychloroquine in these patients.
One study in the Lancet, much-hyped in the media, claimed that hydroxychloroquine was ineffective, but later had to be retracted.
But other studies discouraged use of the drug. Two weeks ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revoked the emergency use certification for hydroxychloroquine.
However, research continued.
The Detroit News reported:
A Henry Ford Health System study shows the controversial anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine helps lower the death rate of COVID-19 patients, the Detroit-based health system said Thursday.
Officials with the Michigan health system said the study found the drug “significantly” decreased the death rate of patients involved in the analysis.
The study analyzed 2,541 patients hospitalized among the system’s six hospitals between March 10 and May 2 and found 13% of those treated with hydroxychloroquine died while 26% of those who did not receive the drug died.
The editors of the Journal summarized the study:
The authors conducted a retrospective cohort study of 2,541 consecutive patients admitted to their health system in Michigan, USA. Patients were separated into four groups: no treatment (n = 409), azithromycin alone (n = 147), hydroxychloroquine alone (n = 1202), and hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin (n = 783). … Their analysis suggested that hydroxychloroquine, with or without azithromycin, was associated with a reduced hazard ratio for death when compared to receipt of neither medication.
The authors of the study themselves concluded that hydroxychloroquine reduced mortality from coronavirus, though they called for further research. Others summarized key points from the data:
82% received HCQ
w/in 24hrs of adm
Reminder—Gilead >$3K/pt Remdesivir doesn’t reduce mortality pic.twitter.com/FI8eAue2Zq
— Kulvinder Kaur MD (@dockaurG) July 3, 2020
Zinc, commonly administered with hydroxychloroquine, does not appear to have been mentioned in the study.
CNN called the results of the Detroit study “surprising”:
It’s a surprising finding because several other studies have found no benefit from hydroxychloroquine, a drug originally developed to treat and prevent malaria. President Donald Trump touted the drug heavily, but later studies found not only did patients not do better if they got the drug, they were more likely to suffer cardiac side effects.
The US Food and Drug Administration withdrew its emergency use authorization for the drug earlier this month and trials around the world, including trials sponsored by the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health, were halted.
The editors of the Journal also acknowledged that the study has “added more fuel to the fire” of the controversy over hydroxychloroquine, which President Donald Trump suggested might be a useful treatment.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.