Hydroxychloroquine, the drug touted by President Trump as the potential “gamechanger” for helping those with the coronavirus, will not be used to treat COVID-19 anymore after the Food and Drug Administration revoked its emergency use status on June 15.
Though Trump has been tweeting about hydroxychloroquine, used as a treatment for malaria, since late March and though he said he took the drug for two weeks himself, it’s now been deemed as “unlikely to produce an antiviral effect,” wrote FDA chief scientist Denise Hinton in a letter announcing the decision, via Politico.
Without the prospect of a coronavirus vaccine anytime in the foreseeable future, there had been hope that hydroxychloroquine could work on COVID-19 because it had shown positive results for other coronaviruses. But despite the president’s constant trumpeting of the drug, its effects at the time were still unknown.
But in April, the news turned sour and never really recovered. That month, researchers noted that hydroxychloroquine “largely failed to deliver improvements” on some “key measures,” and a few days later, it was reported that, in a study of 368 patients in U.S. veterans hospitals, 28% of those who received the drug ended up dying compared to the 11% death rate of those who were not given hydroxychloroquine.
In May, another analysis of 96,000 patients showed they also were more likely to die if given the drug, and on May 26, the World Health Organization said it was halting its hydroxychloroquine trials because of the dangerous side effects. Now, the FDA has effectively ended its use.
“FDA has concluded that, based on this new information and other information discussed in the attached memorandum, it is no longer reasonable to believe that oral formulations of [hydroxychloroquine] and [chloroquine] may be effective in treating COVID-19, nor is it reasonable to believe that the known and potential benefits of these products outweigh their known and potential risks,” Hinton wrote in her letter.