President Trump is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to take action on hydroxychloroquine in light of a new study that shows the drug can reduce the mortality rate in COVID-19 patients.
The study in question was a peer-reviewed, large-scale retrospective analysis of patients that was carried out by researchers for Michigan’s Henry Ford Health System from March 10 to May 2. After analyzing the records of more than 2,500 patients across the six hospitals in the system, they found that only 13 percent of those who were given the drug alone died, while 26.4 percent who were given only standard of care passed away. There was an overall in-hospital mortality rate of 18.1 percent, and the patients involved were all older than 18, with a median age of 64.
Most of those involved receive the drug within 48 hours of their admission. The findings were published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Doctors from the health system sent a request to the FDA for emergency use authorization to get the drug to patients for early treatment for COVID-19 in hospitals, as well as to allow them to prescribe hydroxychloroquine to patients on an outpatient basis and to use it as a prophylaxis as the method has been found to be effective in India.
White House Advisor Peter Navarro has accused some medical experts and media outlets of politicizing the use of the drug because Trump has been promoting it. He has spoken about the treatment repeatedly this spring and summer, and he even said that he had been taking it himself in the hopes of preventing himself from contracting the virus.
According to Navarro, the FDA’s hydroxychloroquine moves have been based on”bad science” and the studies they used were poorly designed or set up for failure because the drug was given to patients too late. A major study that claimed to show the drug led to a higher rate of death was retracted last month. It was withdrawn from the Lancet after it was revealed that it relied on a questionable company known as Surgisphere using unverified and limited data.
Navarro said: “If the results of the Detroit study are confirmed in later studies, President Trump was absolutely right that hydroxychloroquine can save lives. And if, in fact, early treatment use can lead to a 50 percent reduction in mortality, that’s tens of thousands of American lives that are at stake.”
He added that it could be you or one of your loved ones whose lives are saved if the study ends up being right.
It’s also worth noting that this study, although successful, did not look at the combination treatment of hydroxychloroquine with zinc. The mineral has been found to be a key factor in the potentiation of the drug. Previous studies also left it out, which some say is responsible for their results concluding that hydroxychloroquine did not offer a benefit. Nevertheless, the Henry Ford study found that even the drug alone was better than nothing.
Hydroxychloroquine is a medication that is mainly used to treat illnesses such as malaria and lupus. It’s an incredibly cheap drug, with the generic version costing less than $.50 per pill, and it has been in use for more than 65 years. That means it has a proven track record of being well-tolerated by millions of people.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of profits to be made from a COVID-19 vaccine and pricier (and far less effective) medications like Remdesivir, so it’s not surprising to see so many powerful people trying to disparage hydroxychloroquine. Additional studies are now underway, and we can only hope that the drug will prove to be as effective in fighting this pandemic as it appears.
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