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As psychiatrists, we are worried about the shocking increase in people self-medicating with these drugs. To emphasize this point: These are not harmless medications. An Arizona man died and his wife is in critical condition after ingesting chloroquine phosphate, which in one formulation is sold to clean fish tanks. Similar overdoses have been reported internationally. Furthermore, patients who truly need these medications for serious conditions like lupus are going without treatment.

Chloroquine is now a leading experimental treatment for COVID-19

Some states have been forced to limit dispensing them. Doctors have known for decades that chloroquine and related medications like hydroxychloroquine and mefloquine can cause psychiatric side effects even after just one dose. While some patients experience mild anxiety, insomnia and nightmares, others have severe symptoms like personality changes, paranoia, hallucinations and even suicidal thoughts. She said they were using these waves to spy on her and to destroy her brain.

Her doctors were puzzled — until they discovered that she had recently started on chloroquine to treat her arthritis. Once the medication was stopped, she fully recovered. Early reports about chloroquine's effectiveness have also caught the attention of Elon Musk. Repurposed antiviral drugs aren't likely to be cure-alls, but they are the only near-term treatment options.

It will take months, if not years, to determine whether a new drug or vaccine is safe and effective. Vaccines in particular are seen as the gold standard for infectious diseases because they protect people from infections in the first place. But if drugs like chloroquine and remdesivir work, they could bring major relief to healthcare systems around the world that are feeling the weight of a pandemic.

In the US, there are widespread concerns about the likelihood that hospitals will run out of beds and ventilators as the virus spreads, forcing doctors into difficult rationing decisions.

Could Hydroxychloroquine be a Treatment For Covid?

That's already happening in Italy. Remdesivir, given as a day intravenous infusion, could shorten hospital stays and lower ventilator use if it can help patients with serious COVID cases recover faster.

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  • As a simple pill, chloroquine could prevent some COVID patients from worsening to the point of needing hospitalization. Seedhouse said that even in the face of a pandemic, it is essential to stick to evidence-based approaches.

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    Bigger, higher quality trials are now gearing up, including an NYC-based trial planning to test 1, people who live with someone diagnosed with COVID Those researchers are testing to see if hydroxychloroquine works in people at high risk of infection compared to a placebo treatment. Researchers also plan to test chloroquine to see whether it can help prevent healthcare workers from getting the virus in the first place. While peer-reviewed results are the standard in medicine, the lack of that data hasn't prevented the world from acting. Countries including China , South Korea , and Belgium have added chloroquine to their treatment guidelines.

    US physicians don't appear to be waiting for data either. Prescriptions for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have skyrocketed, straining the supply chain. Read more: Elon Musk and Trump are touting a s malaria pill as a potential coronavirus treatment. But supplies are already running short as prescriptions spike.

    French study finds anti-malarial and antibiotic combo could reduce COVID-19 duration

    Doctors in the US have broad authority to prescribe approved medications for so-called off-label uses, or conditions that the drug isn't approved to treat. Andrea Savarino is an Italian scientist who has worked at the Italian National Institute of Health, the country's top medical research body, since He has been studying chloroquine and its potential uses for even longer than that, starting as a virologist in Both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have known safety profiles with the main concerns being cardiotoxicity prolonged QT syndrome with prolonged use in patients with hepatic or renal dysfunction and immunosuppression but have been reportedly well-tolerated in COVID patients.

    Due to higher in-vitro activity against SARS-CoV-2 and its wider availability in the United States compared with chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine has been administered to hospitalized COVID patients on an uncontrolled basis in multiple countries, including in the United States.

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    One small study reported that hydroxychloroquine alone or in combination with azithromycin reduced detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in upper respiratory tract specimens compared with a non-randomized control group but did not assess clinical benefit [ 7 ]. Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin are associated with QT prolongation and caution is advised when considering these drugs in patients with chronic medical conditions e.

    Hydroxychloroquine is currently under investigation in clinical trials for pre-exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and treatment of patients with mild, moderate, and severe COVID In the United States, several clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine for prophylaxis or treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection are planned or will be enrolling soon.

    Lopinavir-ritonavir did not show promise for treatment of hospitalized COVID patients with pneumonia in a recent clinical trial in China [ 8 ].

    Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as a treatment of COVID-19

    This trial was underpowered, and lopinavir-ritonavir is under investigation in a World Health Organization study. Several other drugs are under investigation in clinical trials or are being considered for clinical trials of prophylaxis or treatment of COVID in the United States and worldwide. Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options Skip directly to A-Z link. Section Navigation.

    New York Starts New Experimental Drug Therapies to Treat COVID-19: Here’s What We Know

    Minus Related Pages. Remdesivir Remdesivir is an investigational intravenous drug with broad antiviral activity that inhibits viral replication through premature termination of RNA transcription and has in-vitro activity against SARS-CoV-2 and in-vitro and in-vivo activity against related betacoronaviruses [ ].

    The manufacturer is currently transitioning the provision of emergency access to remdesivir from individual compassionate use requests to an expanded access program. The expanded access program for the United States is under rapid development.