Covid-19: WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over pending safety data

  • That’s after the Lancet published a study that said the drug, touted by US President Donald Trump as a treatment, was linked to an increased risk of death and heart ailments
  • The studies may resume if data warrants, Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said at a briefing

Bloomberg
First Published25 May 2020
A file photo shows an arrangement of hydroxychloroquine pills in Las Vegas
A file photo shows an arrangement of hydroxychloroquine pills in Las Vegas(AP)

The World Health Organization halted the hydroxychloroquine arm of its Covid-19 drug trials pending more data because of safety concerns.

The steering committee decided to suspend enrollment to that arm, WHO officials said Monday. That’s after the Lancet published a study that said the drug, touted by U.S. President Donald Trump as a treatment, was linked to an increased risk of death and heart ailments.

“It’s important to continue to gather evidence on the efficacy and safety of hydroxychloroquine,” WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said at a press briefing in Geneva. “We want to use it if it’s safe and efficacious, reduces mortality, reduces the length of hospitalization without increasing adverse events.”

The studies may resume if data warrants, Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said at a briefing. “This has purely been done as a precaution.”

The safety monitoring board will meet again and the decision will be reviewed in the next week or two, Swaminathan also said.

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