According to an Oxford-led research team, the drug that President Trump hailed as a potential treatment for coronavirus, “appears to be safe.”
Hydroxychloroquine medicine is undergoing clinical trials to assess its safety and efficacy. Currently the drug is used for Malaria and various autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Over 300 scientific researchers from the, Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics (OHDSI) international community, including a team from the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences, have been probing whether there are any serious side effects from the drug.
Dani Prieto-Alhambra, professor of pharmaco- and device epidemiology at the centre for statistics in medicine at Oxford who led the research, said it is still too early to know at this stage how effective the drug is.
The Dr said, “When administered at the doses used for current indications like rheumatoid arthritis, we have not detected any worrying side effects. We therefore think that it’s quite a safe medication in general.
“However, we lack data on its safety when used at higher doses, and it is too early to be able to understand its clinical effectiveness to treat Covid-19.
“Randomised controlled trials are under way that will define the anti-viral efficacy of this treatment, including research at Oxford using hydroxychloroquine on 3,000 high-risk patients to see if it can alleviate the worst of the symptoms.
“We’ll conduct a new study amongst Covid-19 patients when data starts accumulating.”
The European Medicines Agency has warned, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, which is also being investigated for its treatment potential, can have “serious side effects, especially at high doses or when combined with other medicines.”
21 patients treated with siltuximab at the Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital have experienced clinical improvement and a reduced need for oxygen support, whilst 43% of patients saw their condition stabilise, the study involving UK-based Eusa Pharma concluded.
Professor Alessandro Rambaldi, study sponsor-investigator said, “These initial data in siltuximab-treated patients provide vital information to guide decisions regarding appropriate use of siltuximab in both the real-world and new Covid-19 studies.”
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