Physician casts doubt on drug touted as COVID-19 game changer

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Some physicians on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic worry that using hydroxychloroquine — the antimalarial drug touted by President Donald Trump as a "game changer" in fighting the pandemic — could do more harm than good, STAT reported. 

There's no scientific evidence that hydroxychloroquine is effective against COVID-19, but there is evidence that it has harsh side effects when used to treat malaria or autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, physicians told STAT

"It is our duty to make sure what we are doing is evidence- and not fear-based. It’s a big challenge to try to figure out what is best for the patient in the absence of data," Rachel Bystritsky, MD, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California-San Francisco, told STAT

Dr. Bystritsky told STAT that when it comes to deciding whether or not to treat her patients with hydroxychloroquine, she takes into account specific details of each patient's case, discusses the potential benefits and risks with patients and their families, but leaves the decision to them.

"I essentially tell patients, 'I don’t think we have the evidence to say you should take this medicine.' It is of no proven benefit, and sometimes things we do may have the potential for unintended consequences we don’t know about until we have better studies," Dr. Bystritsky told STAT

She added that she's seen overall mixed results when giving the drug to her patients and has seen patients continue to get worse while taking hydroxychloroquine. 

Read the full article here.

 

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