Malaria drugs pushed by U.S. President Donald Trump as treatments for the coronavirus did not help and were tied to a greater risk of death and heart rhythm problems in a new study of nearly 100,000 patients around the world.
Friday’s report in the journal Lancet is not a rigorous test of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, but it is by far the largest look at their use in real world settings, spanning 671 hospitals on six continents.
“Not only is there no benefit, but we saw a very consistent signal of harm,” said one study leader, Dr. Mandeep Mehra, a heart specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
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Researchers estimate that the death rate attributable to use of the drugs, with or without an antibiotic such as azithromycin, is roughly 13 per cent versus nine per cent for patients not taking them. The risk of developing a serious heart rhythm problem is more than five times greater.
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Separately on Friday, the New England Journal of Medicine published preliminary results of a study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health of remdesivir, a Gilead Sciences drug that is the first to show any evidence of benefit against the coronavirus in a large,