National Institutes of Health stopped their clinical trials of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine after they found that treatment did not benefit patients with COVID-19.
The decision to end the test was made after the Food and Drug Administration overruled the emergency use of the drug on Monday, and the World Health Organization excluded it from its global study on Wednesday.
“The Data and Security Monitoring Commission met late Friday night and determined that while there was no harm, the test drug was unlikely to be useful for hospitalized patients with COVID-19,” the NIH statement said on Saturday.
The FDA also determined that the drug was “unlikely to be effective in treating COVID-19,” and warned of side effects, including serious heart rhythm problems.
Hydroxychloroquine is used to treat malaria and rheumatoid diseases such as arthritis. The drug caused excitement at the beginning of the year after several small studies have shown that it can be useful for treating coronavirus.
However, larger studies showed that the drug was not useful and caused heart problems in some patients, and a study in the New England Medical Journal showed that hydroxychloroquine does not work better than placebo in preventing coronavirus infections.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly touted the potential of the drug to fight the virus and went through a two-week regimen last month. White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said that after discussing the evidence for and against hydroxychloroquine with the president, they concluded that “the potential benefits of the treatment outweigh the relative risks.”
According to Johns Hopkins University, there are no FDA-approved drugs for treating coronavirus, which has infected more than 8.6 million people worldwide and killed at least 460,594 people.