Researchers in Utah have finished a test with local COVID-19 patients and come to the conclusion the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine is of no value in treating the disease. Scientists at Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health said the drug resulted in no benefits to virus patients treated in Utah when compared to an antibiotic drug called azithromycin, which is used to treat bacterial infections.
The study was conducted on 85 patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 at 13 different hospitals over an 11-week span. Some patients received a five-day treatment of hydroxychloroquine, while others received azithromycin over the same five-day span. Those treated with hydroxychloroquine were more likely to have worse outcomes, the researchers found.
The results of the study were published recently in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society. The testing when hydroxychloroquine was debated as a drug to treat the coronavirus.
“We saw enormous early interest in hydroxychloroquine, but now we can definitively say that it doesn’t help COVID-19 patients,” Dr. Samuel Brown said in a statement. Brown is the director of the Center for Humanizing Critical Care at Intermountain Healthcare and one of the leading authors of the study.
Other testing has come to similar conclusions, Brown said. For example, the National Institutes of Health stopped its clinical trial of the drug in June because results showed “the study drug was very unlikely to be beneficial to hospitalized patients with COVID-19.” Brown served as a co-chair of that trial, as well.
Utah researchers intended to study 300 patients for their study but stopped at 85 after the national study came to an end.
Brown said the study suggests there are possible benefits of azithromycin, which can be studied further. Studies of the drug are already underway in the United Kingdom by researchers at the University of Oxford.