The US has begun clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to prove its safety and efficacy in treating adult COVID-19 patients. The National Institute of Health (NIH) based trials, named as ORCHID, has enrolled the first group of participants in Tennesse. Hydroxychloroquine is a classified anti-malarial drug, which is also used to treat conditions such as arthritis, lupus, and porphyria cutanea tarda.
The generic drug, which is largely manufactured and exported from India, was in news recently after the US President Donald Trump called it as wonder drug to treat COVID-19. Indian drug manufacturers have now escalated the production after the country announced that it will help supply the formulations to all needy countries, besides catering to the domestic need.
HCQ has recently demonstrated antiviral activity which lead the researchers to identify its potential effectiveness in the treatment of COVID-19. Although the drug seems potential it bears the risks of causing cardiac arrhythmias, seizures, dermatological reactions, and hypoglycemia in some patients.
“Hydroxychloroquine has shown promise in a lab setting against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 and preliminary reports suggest potential efficacy in small studies with patients. However, we really need clinical trial data to determine whether hydroxychloroquine is effective and safe in treating COVID-19,” said James P. Kiley, director, Division of Lung Diseases, NHLBI.
“Many US hospitals are currently using hydroxychloroquine as first-line therapy for hospitalised patients with COVID-19 despite extremely limited clinical data supporting its effectiveness,” said Wesley Self, M.D., M.P.H., an emergency medicine physician at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and a leading researcher at the ORCHID trial.
“Thus, data on hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19 are urgently needed to inform clinical practice,” he added.
NIH has also recently launched a trial to study Remdesivir as a possible treatment for COVID-19 in an attempt to rapidly find an effective therapy for the prevention and treatment of the infection.