(CNN) — A surprising new study found the controversial antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine helped patients better survive in the hospital. But the findings, like the federal government’s use of the drug itself, were disputed.
A team at Henry Ford Health System in southeast Michigan said Thursday their study of 2,541 hospitalized patients found that those given hydroxychloroquine were much less likely to die.
Dr. Marcus Zervos, division head of infectious disease for Henry Ford Health System, said 26% of those not given hydroxychloroquine died, compared to 13% of those who got the drug. The team looked back at everyone treated in the hospital system since the first patient in March.
“Overall crude mortality rates were 18.1% in the entire cohort, 13.5% in the hydroxychloroquine alone group, 20.1% among those receiving hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin, 22.4% among the azithromycin alone group, and 26.4% for neither drug,” the team wrote in a report published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.
It’s a surprising finding because several other studies have found no benefit from hydroxychloroquine, a drug originally developed to treat and prevent malaria. President Donald Trump touted the drug heavily, but later studies found not only did patients not do better if they got the drug, they were more likely to suffer cardiac side effects.