Months ago I wrote about the latest study on chloroquine and and said, “Put a fork in it, it’s done.” Apparently not. I had a patient go to a private mobile Covid-19 testing unit and tested positive. They were asymptomatic. They were given a prescription for hydroxychloroquine and inhaled budesonide. I was astonished. I couldn’t believe that given the amount of information out there showing it’s ineffectiveness that someone would prescribe these drugs.
Here is the latest study followed by an editorial on the toxic mix of medicine and politics from JAMA.
Importance Data on the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are needed.
Objective To determine whether hydroxychloroquine is an efficacious treatment for adults hospitalized with COVID-19.
Design, Setting, and Participants This was a multicenter, blinded, placebo-controlled randomized trial conducted at 34 hospitals in the US. Adults hospitalized with respiratory symptoms from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection were enrolled between April 2 and June 19, 2020, with the last outcome assessment on July 17, 2020. The planned sample size was 510 patients, with interim analyses planned after every 102 patients were enrolled. The trial was stopped at the fourth interim analysis for futility with a sample size of 479 patients.
Interventions Patients were randomly assigned to hydroxychloroquine (400 mg twice daily for 2 doses, then 200 mg twice daily for 8 doses) (n = 242) or placebo (n = 237).
Main Outcomes and Measures The primary outcome was clinical status 14 days after randomization as assessed with a 7-category ordinal scale ranging from 1 (death) to 7 (discharged from the hospital and able to perform normal activities). The primary outcome was analyzed with a multivariable proportional odds model, with an adjusted odds ratio (aOR) greater than 1.0 indicating more favorable outcomes with hydroxychloroquine than placebo. The trial included 12 secondary outcomes, including 28-day mortality.
Results Among 479 patients who were randomized (median age, 57 years; 44.3% female; 37.2% Hispanic/Latinx; 23.4% Black; 20.1% in the intensive care unit; 46.8% receiving supplemental oxygen without positive pressure; 11.5% receiving noninvasive ventilation or nasal high-flow oxygen; and 6.7% receiving invasive mechanical ventilation or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), 433 (90.4%) completed the primary outcome assessment at 14 days and the remainder had clinical status imputed. The median duration of symptoms prior to randomization was 5 days (interquartile range [IQR], 3 to 7 days). Clinical status on the ordinal outcome scale at 14 days did not significantly differ between the hydroxychloroquine and placebo groups (median [IQR] score, 6 [4-7] vs 6 [4-7]; aOR, 1.02 [95% CI, 0.73 to 1.42]). None of the 12 secondary outcomes were significantly different between groups. At 28 days after randomization, 25 of 241 patients (10.4%) in the hydroxychloroquine group and 25 of 236 (10.6%) in the placebo group had died (absolute difference, −0.2% [95% CI, −5.7% to 5.3%]; aOR, 1.07 [95% CI, 0.54 to 2.09]).
Conclusions and Relevance Among adults hospitalized with respiratory illness from COVID-19, treatment with hydroxychloroquine, compared with placebo, did not significantly improve clinical status at day 14. These findings do not support the use of hydroxychloroquine for treatment of COVID-19 among hospitalized adults.
Trial Registration ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT04332991