FDA Cautions People to Avoid Hydroxychloroquine or Chloroquine to Treat COVID-19 Due to Potential Cardiac Risks
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, announced that using hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine to treat COVID-19 or as a method to prevent contracting the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 while not under a doctor’s care or in a hospital setting is highly likely to cause adverse cardiac events and abnormal heart rhythms. An adverse cardiac event or heart rhythm problems could lead to irreversible heart damage, stroke, or heart attack, cardiac arrest, and, subsequently, death. The FDA warned physicians not to proscribe either drug on an outpatient basis as a treatment for COVID-19 or as a preventative for the novel coronavirus. The FDA clearly stated that it continues to approve hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as appropriate therapies for lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and malaria.
The FDA unequivocally stated that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are neither safe, nor are they effective for either treating or preventing COVID-19. The FDA noted that researchers are conducting clinical trials regarding the medications efficacy and safety to be used as a therapy for COVID-19. The FDA admitted that the agency granted Emergency Use Authorization to physicians treating patients who are hospitalized as a result of a COVID-19 infection during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The limited authority given to physicians to use hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine off label by the FDA was limited to cases in which trials were unable to be conducted, or patient participation in a trial was impossible.
Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are known to cause abnormal heart rhythms. The abnormal heart rhythms are identified as QT interval prolongation. The FDA also said that the drugs cause the patient to suffer a dangerously high rapid heart rate identified as ventricular tachycardia.
Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are known to cause cardiac problems on their own. However, the FDA advised that combining those medications with antibiotics, specifically azithromycin, can exacerbate the potential damage to the heart. Additionally, the FDA indicated that people suffering from pre-existing heart conditions and kidney disease are also at a higher risk for suffering the adverse cardiac events after taking hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.
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