What you need to know about the unproven malaria drug for coronavirus treatment

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Some politicians and doctors are sparring over whether to use hydroxychloroquine against the new coronavirus, with many scientists saying the evidence is too thin to recommend it now.

HOW IS IT BEING USED?

The drug can help tame an overactive immune system. It’s been used since the 1940s to prevent and treat malaria, and to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. It’s sold in generic form and under the brand name Plaquenil in the United States. Doctors also can prescribe it “off label” for other purposes, as many are doing now for COVID-19.

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WHAT’S THE EVIDENCE?

2:14Coronavirus: Clinical trial of anti-malaria drug underway in B.C.

Coronavirus: Clinical trial of anti-malaria drug underway in B.C.

Some small and very preliminary studies give conflicting results. One lab study suggested it curbed the virus’ ability to enter cells. Another report on 11 people found it did not improve how fast patients cleared the virus or their symptoms. A report from China claimed the drug helped more than 100 patients at 10 hospitals, but they had various degrees of illness and were treated with various doses for different lengths of time,

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