Philippines halts trial of hydroxychloroquine as COVID-19 treatment
A pharmacy tech pours out pills of Hydroxychloroquine at Rock Canyon Pharmacy in Provo, Utah, on May 20, 2020.
AFP/George Frey

Philippines halts trial of hydroxychloroquine as COVID-19 treatment

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - May 26, 2020 - 4:14pm

MANILA, Philippines — Hospitals in the Philippines participating in the World Health Organization’s solidarity trial will stop the use of anti-viral drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for patients who have contracted the coronavirus disease.

This comes after the WHO temporarily suspended clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine—which is normally used to treat arthritis—as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

“We follow WHO guidelines on this because this is the WHO solidarity trial,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

“In fact, this morning, the proponent of the study sent a letter to my office saying that we are pulling out and we are stopping from giving this hydroxychloroquine to our patients because of WHO’s advice,” she added.

The health official said the results of the trial on the anti-viral drug cannot be released yet because the study is still in the clinical trial phase.

The Philippines is part of the solidarity trial of the WHO, which aims to test the safety and effectiveness of four drugs against COVID-19.

The solidarity trial, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in March, is a "large, international study ... designed to generate the robust data we need to show which treatments are the most effective."

The WHO's decision to temporarily suspend clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine came after a study in The Lancet medical journal suggested that the drug could increase the risk of serious heart problems and even death among COVID-19 patients.

The study also said that hydroxychloroquine as well as the anti-malarial chloroquine did not help patients with COVID-19.

In his report to Congress last week, President Rodrigo said the DOH has allocated P18 million for the clinical trials of anti-flu medication Avigan on coronavirus patients.

The new coronavirus has so far sickened 14,319 people in the Philippines. Of the figure, 3,323 have recovered, while 873 have died. — with report from Agence France-Presse

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