Florida Doctor: Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin Helped Patients, Trials Needed

This Monday, April 6, 2020, photo shows an arrangement of Hydroxychloroquine pills in Las
AP Photo/John Locher

At his daily coronavirus press briefing on Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis included an interview with Dr. Sunil Kumar, a critical care and pulmonary physician at Broward Health, who said a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin has helped some patients.

“This drug seems to be working in a group of patients that we have treated,” Kumar said. “We are trying out all the different options at this point.”

Kumar also played a video from one of those patients.

“Everybody here has treated me openly, fairly and in good faith, worked really, really hard to help me,” the unidentified man said.

WSCN TV reported on the press briefing, which included remarks from Kumar:

While initial results are showing promise, Kumar stressed the importance of further research into the treatment, and he also discussed some other promising treatments.

“We don’t want to assume that’s going to help everybody,” Kumar said. “I think we need to continue with aggressive efforts with randomized control trials, which is being done. There is something that we are trying on these very sick patients that’s called nitric oxide treatment. We are learning, like you said. Every day, we are learning something new.”

Politico also covered the briefing, editorializing in its report that DeSantis “used his coronavirus briefing to give a choreographed, live-streamed shout-out to hydroxychloroquine, a drug President Donald Trump has touted as a potential miracle cure for Covid-19.”

Politico also reported on the effort to make these drugs available to physicians and patients:

The Food and Drug Administration [FDA] last week authorized emergency use of the medicine for severely ill coronavirus patients who are already in the hospital. And it lifted years-old restrictions on India-based Ipca Laboratories, a manufacturer of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, in a bid to get more of the drugs into the U.S. at Trump’s urging.

“As this thing was first discussed in Washington, and the FDA made their decision on it, you know, I reached out to physicians and just, you know, asked them, ‘hey, what’s the deal with this?'” DeSantis said. “We want to obviously give patients all the opportunities toward recovery.”

“Understanding the limitations on what you can say about hydroxychloroquine,” DeSantis said, “you would like to have that as a position, as an option to be able to treat the folks who come in with it?”

“Absolutely,” Kumar said.

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