Medical Group Endorses Hydroxychloroquine for ‘Sufficiently Severe’ Coronavirus Patients
NEW YORK — A task force led by the American Thoracic Society in New York has temporarily endorsed using hydroxychloroquine for hospitalized coronavirus patients with “severe pneumonia.”
The group stressed the recommendation applies only to hospitalized patients where the “clinical condition is sufficiently severe to warrant investigational therapy.”
And the endorsement applies only to cases where the patient can be informed of the malaria drug’s possibly lethal side effects, the task force said.
The group further warned its recommendation would not apply in the event of a “shortage of drug supply.”
Hydroxychloroquine is regularly prescribed to treat patients with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
The American Medical Association and pharmacists’ groups recently released a joint statement warning about a possible run on the medication due to unnecessary prescriptions and bulk orders related to COVID-19.
“Stockpiling these medications — or depleting supplies with excessive, anticipatory orders — can have grave consequences for patients with conditions such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis if the drugs are not available in the community,” the joint statement said.
“Being just stewards of limited resources is essential,” it said.
The American Thoracic Society released its new guidelines Friday and posted them on social media Monday.
“The International Task Force strongly agrees with prevailing sentiment that clinical trials are urgently needed to effectively guide management. However, most patients do not have access to clinical trials, trials take time and speculation is that results will not be available until late spring or early fall,” the group said.
In the meantime, it urged physicians to collect data on patients receiving off-label interventions.
President Donald Trump has touted the potential of hydroxychloroquine, and its predecessor chloroquine, as a possible “game changer” in the fight against COVID-19.
He said Saturday he might even take the drug, though doctors have warned it’s unproven and he hasn’t tested positive for coronavirus.
In its new guidelines, the American Thoracic Society does not recommend using hydroxychloroquine for prophylaxis. It also refrains from endorsing the use in people who test positive for the virus but do not have pneumonia.
One concerned physician who spoke to the Daily News said the drug has the potential to cause life-threatening abnormal heartbeats in 1% of patients. He said the results of small studies of hydroxychloroquine published in recent weeks must be viewed with this in mind.
“When you’re only treating 100 people, this 1% at-risk category for the drug causing drug-induced sudden cardiac death is just not going to rear its head,” Dr. Michael Ackerman, a genetic cardiologist and director of Mayo Clinic’s Windland Smith Rice Sudden Death Genomics Laboratory, said.
But if the drug is given to 1 million people, that 1% rate might be a big problem.
“That’s 10,000 people standing close to the edge,” said Ackerman, co-author of a paper on what he called the hydroxychloroquine’s potential “lethal dark side.”
He said ongoing research into the drug is warranted, provided it’s done with a healthy respect for the side effects.
“As a science purist, I would say the data is interesting. It’s encouraging. But I don’t think it rises to the level of necessarily shouting from on high that this medication, hydroxychloroquine with or without azithromycin, is going to be the cure-all,” Ackerman told The News.
“The evidence that we have so far would never be enough to normally lead to an FDA-approved indication,” he said. “It’s still too early to tell for sure.”
©2020 New York Daily News
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
In The News
WASHINGTON (AP) — As coronavirus cases surge again nationwide the Supreme Court late Wednesday barred New York from enforcing certain limits on attendance at churches and synagogues in areas designated as hard hit by the virus. The justices split 5-4 with new Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the... Read More
WASHINGTON — House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal's attitude toward legislating under a Democratic-led White House might aptly be described as "never let a crisis go to waste." The Massachusetts Democrat wants to take a page from his party's 2009 playbook, when the Obama administration took office amid the wreckage of... Read More
WASHINGTON — When the 117th Congress convenes in January, COVID-19 precautions will prevent the 435 House members from gathering in the chamber together, so opening day festivities of swearing in members and electing the speaker will look a little different. House leaders have begun discussing how to carry out... Read More
WASHINGTON — A top Senate Democrat said Tuesday that she's engaged in bipartisan discussions on COVID-19 aid and urged quick action even if that means "a short-term package for the next few months." "We need to act," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D- Mich., the fourth-ranking Democrat in that chamber... Read More
You can bring wine to Thanksgiving, bring sweet potatoes, bring congealed salad if you must. But you can't bring COVID-19, and that's causing hours-long lines at U.S. testing centers, triggering desperation among people yet to be cleared for the holiday meal. They're waiting outside even as health officials warn... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — All those warnings from public health officials begging Americans to limit gatherings this holiday season amid a surge in coronavirus cases aren't stopping the White House from planning a host of festivities and holiday parties in the midst of a pandemic. Monday's delivery... Read More