GENEVA: The World Health Organization decided Wednesday to halt trials of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for hospitalised COVID-19 patients, finding it did not reduce the mortality rate.
A decades-old malaria and rheumatoid arthritis drug, hydroxychloroquine has been at the centre of political and scientific controversy.
It has been touted as a possible treatment for the new coronavirus by high profile figures, including US President Donald Trump.
The drug has been included in several randomised clinical trials — considered the gold standard for clinical investigation — but the WHO said the evidence had led the UN health agency to call time on its own trials.
Doctor Ana Maria Henao Restrepo, from the WHO s health emergencies programme, told a virtual press conference in Geneva that it was being withdrawn from its multi-country Solidarity Trial of a range of potential treatments.
“The internal evidence from the Solidarity/Discovery Trial, the external evidence from the Recovery Trial and the combined evidence from these large randomised trials, brought together, suggest that hydroxychloroquine — when compared with the standard of care in the treatment of hospitalised COVID-19 patients — does not result in the reduction of the mortality of those patients,” she said.