VA Study of Anti-Malarial Drug Shows No Benefit for Use with Coronavirus Patients

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A nationwide study of coronavirus patients at U.S. Veteran’s Affairs hospitals found that the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine does not help patients recover from the illness.

The study, which appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine and is not yet peer-reviewed, analyzes records of 368 patients who died or were discharged from VA hospitals by April 11.

Researchers found that 28 percent of patients given hydroxychloroquine died, while 11 percent died with normal care. Hydroxychloroquine did not have an effect on patients’ need for breathing medicine. The anti-malarial drug has been known to produce serious side effects including problems with heart rhythms.

President Trump and some state governors have touted the drug as potentially beneficial for coronavirus patients. Trump tweeted in March that the drug has “a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine.”

New York governor Andrew Cuomo said earlier this month that the drug would be used on a “compassionate care” basis. The state is in the midst of its own trials of the medication.

South Dakota governor Kristi Noem announced on April 13 that her state would conduct the first statewide clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine. That trial is also ongoing.

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