The US Food and Drug Administration has revoked emergency use authorisations for anti-malaria drugs which President Donald Trump claimed without evidence could be used to treat Covid-19 as new research reveals potentially deadly side effects.
Drugs like hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine flew off the shelves in recent months after they were touted by the US president to treat and even prevent the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, which triggered a global pandemic after an outbreak in Wuhan, China at the end of last year.
Mr Trump previously revealed he was taking hydroxychloroquine, a drug that can be used to treat malaria and, in some cases, rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments, as part of an apparent effort to prevent himself from contracting the coronavirus.
In revoking emergency status for the drugs, the FDA cited a growing pool of evidence that showed potential health risks for Covid-19 patients. Doctors can still prescribe them as alternate medicines to patients under the updated guidelines.
Hydroxychlrooquine may cause nerve damage, heart rhythm problems and low blood pressure.
The president said last month that he was taking hydroxychloroquine, telling reporters: “All I can tell you is, so far, I feel okay.
“It seems to have an impact,” he said. “Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t…You’re not going to get sick and die.”
The FDA previously reminded healthcare professionals and patients of the “known risks” associated with both hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine after the agency said it was “aware of reports of serious heart rhythm problems in patients with Covid-19 treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, often in combination with azithromycin and other QT prolonging medicines.”
Mr Trump said it White House medical team determined the “potential benefit outweighed the relative risks” of taking the drug as a preventative measure.
However, doctors who had prescribed the anti-malaria drugs were filling prescriptions for patients who had already contracted Covid-19, while Mr Trump was taking the drug as an alleged form of prevention.
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