A timeline on the malaria drug that became a front-running COVID-19 treatment

Maia Anderson - Print  | 

The malaria drug hydroxychloroquine has frequently made national headlines in the last few months as it emerged as a front-running potential treatment for COVID-19. 

President Donald Trump and prominent public health officials have frequently discussed hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, a more toxic version of the drug, as game changers in the country's pandemic response. 

A timeline of hydroxychloroquine news as reported by Becker's Hospital Review in the last two months: 

March 20 — Anti-malaria drug touted as COVID-19 'game changer' already in short supply
After President Donald Trump says hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are possible treatments for COVID-19 during his daily televised news briefings, demand skyrockets, and the drugs quickly go into shortage. 

March 23 — Physicians found hoarding experimental COVID-19 treatments for relatives
Ohio's pharmacy board blocks pharmacists from dispensing hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine unless a person has tested positive for the virus.

March 24 — Man dies after ingesting fish tank cleaner containing chloroquine for COVID-19
A man in Arizona dies after ingesting a non-medication form of chloroquine phosphate in an attempt to prevent himself from contracting COVID-19.

March 26 — India bans exports of potential COVID-19 drug
India bans exports of hydroxychloroquine to ensure the country has its own stable supply of the drug.

March 28 — FDA issues emergency use authorization
The FDA grants emergency use authorization to allow patients with COVID-19 to be treated with hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. 

April 6 — 20 states try to stop hoarding of potential COVID-19 treatments
At least 20 states across the U.S. take measures to prevent hoarding of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine after both drugs are listed on the FDA's drug shortage list. 

April 7 — India lifts ban on hydroxychloroquine exports 
India lifts its export ban on hydroxychloroquine after President Donald Trump threatens retaliation against the country.

April 9 — CDC deletes advice on front-running COVID-19 drugs from website
The CDC deletes most of its guidelines for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine from its website. The agency previously had a section on its website detailing how some U.S. healthcare providers have used hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 patients and how the drug was "reportedly well-tolerated."

April 10 — Physicians cast doubt on drug touted as COVID-19 game changer
Some physicians on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic express concern that using hydroxychloroquine could do more harm than good. 

April 13 —  Chloroquine study halted after patients develop heart complications
A small study in Brazil testing the effectiveness of chloroquine in treating COVID-19 patients ends after patients taking a higher dose of the drug develop irregular heart rates.

April 21 — Novartis to test malaria drug in 440 hospitalized COVID-19 patients
Novartis says it plans to conduct a 440-person clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19.

April 22 — Largest hydroxychloroquine study to date finds no benefit for COVID-19 
Hydroxychloroquine shows no benefit for patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in a study conducted by the Veterans Health Administration.

April 24 — FDA warns against hydroxychloroquine use outside of hospital settings 
The FDA issues a warning against using hydroxychloroquine outside of a hospital setting or clinical trial due to the risk of serious heart problems.

April 27 — Despite FDA warning, states stockpiling potential COVID-19 treatment
States and local governments stockpiling hydroxychloroquine have obtained about 30 million doses of it. 

April 29 — Demand for malaria drug to treat COVID-19 falls amid warnings of serious side effects
Demand for hydroxychloroquine falls significantly as hospitals become more wary of using the drug after more public health officials warn of serious side effects. 

 

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