PH stops hydroxychloroquine treatment in COVID-19 clinical trials after WHO advice
MANILA, Philippines — Hospitals in the country participating in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) solidarity trial will stop administering the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to patients as a treatment for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in compliance with the international body’s move to drop the drug from its global study.
“We will follow WHO guidelines because this is a WHO solidarity trial. We are stopping giving hydroxychloroquine to our patients because of WHO’s advice,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters in an online media forum.
Results of the trial on the drug, however, will still not be released despite the cessation of the administering of the drug, Vergeire added.
Hydroxychloroquine, a less toxic derivative of chloroquine, was approved for treating lupus and rheumatoid arthritis and for preventing and treating malaria. It was initially included in the clinical trial for COVID-19 treatment after some laboratories reported that it curbed the ability of the virus to enter the cells.
The “temporary pause” in the drug trial was prompted by the publication of a paper last week in The Lancet, a medical journal followed by most medical specialists, which showed that people taking hydroxychloroquine were at higher risk of incurring heart problems, or even of death.
Other drugs or combinations including the experimental drug remdesivir and an HIV combination therapy, are still being tested.
So far, 148 patients and 24 hospitals have joined the WHO’s Solidarity trial in the country, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said.
At least 100 countries have joined the trial, and the Philippines was given the go signal to join the activity by the Single Joint Research Ethics Board (SJREB), a unit organized by the Department of Health to conduct a harmonized review of health-related research protocols.
The study will test the effectiveness of possible treatments for COVID-19. WHO and participating countries will compare the effectiveness of several drugs used in COVID-19 treatment in different countries.
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