The World Health Organization announced Wednesday that it is abandoning hydroxychloroquine, a cure for malaria, supported by President Donald Trump, from its global study on the possible treatment of coronavirus.
The decision to stop testing the hydroxychloroquine in the Solidarity study was made after the data from this study were obtained, and another study showed that it would not be useful, said Ana Maria Henao Restrepo, WHO Medical Officer.
The announcement is likely to further weaken the hope that the drug will be useful against coronavirus.
The drug caused excitement at the beginning of the year after several small studies showed that it could be useful. Trump promoted this as a potential cure for the virus and said he used it as a preventative measure against the disease.
However, several large studies have shown that the drug was not beneficial and caused heart problems in some patients. A recent study published in the New England Medical Journal found that hydroxychloroquine was no better than a placebo in the prevention of coronavirus infections.
On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration announced the cancellation of the emergency use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine after it had concluded that the drugs were “unlikely to be effective” against Covid-19.
“In addition, in light of the ongoing serious side effects from the heart and other serious side effects, the known and potential benefits of CQ and HCQ no longer outweigh the known and potential risks for authorized use,” the FDA said in a Monday notice.
Separately, WHO officials called on the public to exercise caution regarding dexamethasone, a steroid that scientists called a breakthrough.
Scientists at Oxford University said on Tuesday that the results of their “Recovery” study showed that the drug, which is widely used to reduce inflammation in other diseases, reduces mortality by about a third among the most seriously ill Covid-19 patients admitted to the hospital. There was no benefit among patients who did not need respiratory support.
The test results were “very significant,” but it was just one study, said Dr. Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Emergency Program, on Wednesday. “We need to see real data, complete data.”