DOH to stop giving anti-malaria drug to COVID patients participating in WHO's Solidarity Trial

By Analou De Vera

Following the advice of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Department of Health (DOH) will stop giving the anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients in the country who are participating in the WHO’s global solidarity clinical trial.

Department of Health (MANILA BULLETIN) Department of Health (MANILA BULLETIN)

“We follow WHO guidelines on this because this is a WHO Solidarity trial,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

“In fact, this morning, nagpalabas na ng sulat ang ating proponent at ipinadala sa aking opisina na sinasabi na nga po nila na we are pulling out, we are stopping from giving this hydroxychloroquine to our patients because of WHO's advice ,” she added.

Hydroxychloroquine was earlier included in the Solidarity trial that is aimed at finding a cure for the dreaded disease. The said anti-malarial drug was also used for the treatment of patients with chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile inflammatory arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus.

On Monday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced that they will temporarily halt the use of hydroxychloroquine in the solidarity clinical trial following safety concerns.

“On Friday, the Lancet published an observational study on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine and its effects on COVID-19 patients that have been hospitalized. The authors reported that among patients receiving the drug, when used alone or with a macrolide, they estimated a higher mortality rate,” said Ghebreyesus.

“The Executive Group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity Trial while the safety data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board,” he added.

Vergeire said that they cannot disclose yet the condition of the patients here who were given hydroxychloroquine.

“With regard to results or kung ano man ang naging resulta nito sa mga pasyente natin ngayon na nasa ospital ay hindi pa po natin pwede ilabas yan dahil we are on the clinical trial phase. But rest assured na tayo ay titigil na muna sa pagbigay nitong gamot dahil ito ay nairekomenda ng WHO ,” said the Health official.

Ghebreyesus said that the other arms of the solidarity trial will still continue. The other drugs included in the said trial are: Remdesivir, Lopinavir with Ritonavir, and Lopinavir with Ritonavir plus Interferon beta-1a.

Te WHO chief reiterated that hydroxychloroquine is “accepted as generally safe for use in patients with auto-immune diseases or malaria."