WHO suspends hydroxychloroquine trials


The World Health Organization is temporarily suspending the use of hydroxychloroquine from its global study into experimental treatments for the coronavirus.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a news briefing Monday that a study published last week showed those taking hydroxychloroquine had a greater risk of heart problems and death.

Tedros said a “temporary pause” would be implemented on the drug’s use in the trials until the data are reviewed.

“This concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in COVID-19,” he said, noting that it’s safe to use the drug to treat autoimmune diseases and malaria.

Michael Ryan, WHO’s emergencies chief, said the decision was made out of an “an abundance of caution,” and there have not yet been any safety issues with the use of hydroxychloroquine in the trial.

President Trump has championed the drug as a “game changer” in treating coronavirus patients and announced last week he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventative measure. Trump has not tested positive for COVID-19.

The Food and Drug Administration approved an emergency use authorization for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, a less toxic derivative of chloroquine, to treat some hospitalized patients, but warned the drugs can cause serious heart problems.

“Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19,” the FDA said.