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3 Jun, 2020 17:57

WHO says hydroxychloroquine trials for Covid-19 will RESUME as doubts emerge over side-effects research

WHO says hydroxychloroquine trials for Covid-19 will RESUME as doubts emerge over side-effects research

The World Health Organization has said that clinical trials involving the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine will resume, following doubts about US research which had led to their suspension.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday that the trials of the anti-malarial drug for possible use against the novel coronavirus would be resumed, after they’d been paused over fears of increased death rates.

The world health body said there was no reason to modify its clinical trial of the drug, adding that experts had advised the continuation of “all arms” of the so-called Solidarity trial, including that concerning hydroxychloroquine.

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Last week, Italy, France and Germany banned the use of the drug to treat Covid-19 patients, citing new clinical evidence indicating that there was “an increased risk for adverse reactions with little or no benefit.” 

The much-publicized study in medical journal The Lancet could not confirm any benefit from the drug against Covid-19, and also reported that taking it was associated with increased risks of in-hospital deaths. However, serious questions have been raised about the data used in that study.

The research, by US-based company Surgisphere, began to unravel in recent weeks as experts noticed red flags and questioned the credulity of its data-gathering and reporting. The Lancet journal issued an “expression of concern” over the study on Wednesday. 

A Guardian investigation found that Surgisphere’s employees “have little or no data or scientific background,” with one appearing to be a sci-fi author and fantasy artist. The firm’s chief executive Sapan Desai has been named in three medical malpractice suits, the outlet said.

One WHO expert said hopefully trials of the drug will continue until there is a “definitive” answer on whether or not it works, Reuters reported.

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