The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today issued a warning on the use of the antimalaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for treating COVID-19. The warning is related to the potential for the drugs to prolong the QT interval—a cardiogram measurement used to assess some of the electrical properties of the heart—and cause abnormal heart rhythms, particularly in patients with cardiac conditions. Those risks may increase when the drugs are combined with the antibiotic azithromycin, which can further increase the risk for sudden cardiac arrest. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, either alone or in combination with azithromycin, are being studied for COVID-19 but are also increasingly being prescribed to COVID-19 patients outside the hospital setting. The FDA says use of the drugs should be limited to clinical trials or for treating certain hospitalized patients under the agency’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), which was issued in late March.

 

Ragesoss CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

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