Touted as game-changing treatment in covid-19, hydroxychloroquine has life-threatening side effects

To cure numerous covid-19 patients even the US president has placed his bets on hydroxychloroquine but unfortunately a study reveals a bad news about this antimalarial drug. Read this to know.
Hydroxychloroquine might not be a safe bet for covid-19. Image courtesy: Shutterstock.
IANS Updated: 11 May 2021, 05:16 am IST
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The cases of covid-19 have not yet seen a dip. The USA is now becoming the hot spot for this virus. That’s why we have seen the president of the world’s oldest democracy requesting the PM of the world’s largest democracy, India, to help them by supplying hydroxychloroquine which can be used for the treatment of people infected with covid-19 virus. But it seems like that’s not going to happen. 

Why? Well, that’s because a study reveals that this drug is life-threatening.   

The current study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, stated that chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, and azithromycin are being used to treat and prevent COVID-19 despite weak evidence for effectiveness, and physicians and patients should be aware of the drugs’ potentially serious adverse events.

novel coronavirus
A drug that will prevent novel coronavirus is being discovered and it might be available by June 2020, claims WHO. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The drug has been identified by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a potential treatment for the coronavirus and was touted repeatedly by Trump as a “game-changer.”

“Physicians and patients should be aware of several rare but potentially life-threatening adverse effects of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine,” said study researcher Dr David Juurlink, Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Canada.

The review provides an overview of potential harms associated with these drugs as well as their management based on the best available evidence.

Greater risk for those who have heart-related problems
According to the study, potential adverse effects include cardiac arrhythmias– Improper beating of the heart, whether irregular, too fast or too slow, Hypoglycemia – It is a condition in which your blood sugar (glucose) level is lower than normal and overdose (chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are highly toxic in overdose and can cause seizures, coma, and cardiac arrest) Neuropsychiatric effects, such as agitation, confusion, hallucinations, and paranoia.

Interactions with other drugs, metabolic variability (some people metabolize chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine poorly and a small percentage metabolize them rapidly, which affects the response to treatment).

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Drug shortages (patients with autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other chronic diseases, who take hydroxychloroquine to treat these conditions could have problems accessing this drug). 

Researchers said more evidence is required before they use it to treat patients
The review summarizes the poor quality of evidence suggesting that these treatments might be beneficial in patients with COVID-19 and cautions that it is possible that these treatments could worsen the disease.

“Despite optimism (in some, even enthusiasm) for the potential of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19, little consideration has been given to the possibility that the drugs might negatively influence the course of disease,” said Dr Juurlink.

“This is why we need a better evidence base before routinely using these drugs to treat patients with COVID-19,” Juurlink concluded.

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