A retrospective study of patients with COVID-19 at Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals found no evidence that the antimalaria drug hydroxychloroquine, either with or without the antibiotic azithromycin, reduced mortality or the need for mechanical ventilation. Researchers also found that hydroxychloroquine alone was associated with increased mortality. The findings, published this week on the preprint server medRxiv, suggest hydroxychloroquine may not have as much promise for treating COVID-19 patients as initially hoped. The study was not a randomized controlled trial, so the implications of the findings are limited, and the results have not been peer-reviewed. Still, the authors say the results suggest clinicians need to be careful about using the drug in COVID-19 patients. “Data from ongoing, randomized controlled studies will prove informative when they emerge,” they wrote. “Until then, the findings from this retrospective study suggest caution in using hydroxychloroquine in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, particularly when not combined with azithromycin.”

 

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