GENEVA: The World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday that due to safety concerns, it is temporarily halting a clinical trial of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine for treating coronavirus patients.
The announcement follows the publication Friday by the Lancet medical journal of an observational study on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine and its effects on hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
“The Executive Group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial while the safety data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
He said that more than two months ago, the WHO initiated its “Solidarity Trial” to evaluate the safety and efficacy of four drugs and drug combinations against COVID-19.
On April 19, US President Donald Trump said he had been taking hydroxychloroquine, which he has repeatedly touted for the treatment of coronavirus patients.
Hydroxychloroquine is normally used to treat arthritis but pronouncement from public figures including US President Donald Trump—who announced last week he is taking the drug—has prompted governments to bulk buy the medicine.
Brazil’s health minister also recommended last week using hydroxychloroquine, as well as the anti-malarial chloroquine, to treat even mild COVID-19 cases.