On March 28, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use of hydroxychloroquine on an emergency use basis as a potential therapeutic answer to COVID-19. This drug, along with chloroquine phosphate, had been previously approved for use in treating some forms of malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.
The initial trials were started in April in Tennessee, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville. This trial involved 500 participants and results have yet to be published. However, an additional trial involving 368 patients in United States Veterans Health Administration medical centers were involved in a second trial. Those 368 were broken into control groups as follows:
- 97 — hydroxychloroquine only
- 113 — hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin
- 158 — no hydroxychloroquine
The study was conducted to see if there was a potential for the drug’s potential anti-viral qualities to minimize the symptoms, avoid ventilation, and shorten the time to recovery for patients.
Outcome of Clinical Trial Disheartening
Once testing commenced, patients were already quite ill given how the drugs were approved for use. When the final tests were complete, review of the cases proved to be less than ideal and gave clinicians reason to doubt the efficacy of use of hydroxychloroquine or of the hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin combination.
Mortality rates were significantly increased when patients received either hydroxychloroquine or the hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin combination. In the group who received neither medication, 11.4 percent lost their lives. In the group receiving only one drug, 27.9 percent succumbed to COVID-19 while 22.1 percent of those taking the combination drugs succumbed.
One bright spot in this study was with mechanical ventilation. Only 13.3 percent of participants in the hydroxychloroquine group required use of a ventilator. 6.9 percent receiving the combination treatment were later placed on ventilators, while 14.1 percent who received neither drug required mechanical ventilation. The ultimate determination of the authors of the study was “the findings from this retrospective study suggest caution in using hydroxychloroquine in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, particularly when not combined with azithromycin.”
Dangerous Drugs Create Additional Health Problems
While patients may have been given some of the potential side effects of the clinical trial, there were other patients who were not part of the trial who were treated with these drugs. For example, a group of veterans were treated with either one drug or a combination of the drugs seemed to not fare better than those who received neither drug, and in many cases succumbed to diseases which may not have been directly related to COVID-19. Some deaths were attributed to heart failure and other disease which some believe may have been related to the use of hydroxychloroquine leading to the following statement: “the panel recommends against the combination of hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin because of the potential for toxicities.”
Families who lost loved ones who underwent these studies probably have numerous questions. Additionally, they may wish to have an attorney who has been involved in dangerous drug lawsuits review the forms which required signatures prior to the administration and participation in these studies to ensure they were made aware of the various risks of using these drugs. If your loved one was a victim of these drugs and you would like to learn more about your options, contact the personal injury law attorneys at Allan Berger & Associates in New Orleans at 504-618-1596 and let them help you understand what steps you can take.