The truth about Hydroxychloroquine, according to frontline doctors. And why hydroxychloroquine controversy may never go away
Hydroxychloroquine has become the most controversial drug in the history of America. We’ve been writing about hydroxychloroquine since March after the deadly coronavirus spread to the United States from Wuhan China in December 2019. What’s so fascinating about this drug is that hydroxychloroquine has been used successfully to treat malaria since 1944 without any major issues or concerns until March 2020 when the mainstream media came out with all out war on the drug. To date, hydroxychrloquine is still being used to treat Lupus patients.
So, you might be wondering why all of sudden the view on hydroxychloroquine changed. It all started on March 22 after President Trump touted the drug as a potential “game-changer.” The mainstream media came out of the woodwork with negative headlines about the drug.
However, what many people may not realize is that, a couple of days before President Trump’s tweet, NIH published a study that showed Hydroxychloroquine to be more effective and potent than chloroquine in vitro treatment of coronavirus. Below are the excerpts from NIH own website
Hydroxychloroquine (EC50=0.72 μM) was found to be more potent than chloroquine (EC50=5.47 μM) in vitro. Based on PBPK models results, a loading dose of 400 mg twice daily of hydroxychloroquine sulfate given orally, followed by a maintenance dose of 200 mg given twice daily for 4 days is recommended for SARS-CoV-2 infection, as it reached three times the potency of chloroquine phosphate when given 500 mg twice daily 5 days in advance.
Hydroxychloroquine was found to be more potent than chloroquine to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 in vitro.
As the science evolves, more studies were conducted to test the efficacy and the safety of the drug. On March 30, FDA issued emergency use authorization of anti-malaria drug Hydroxychloroquine for treatment of coronavirus patients. Also in April, some in the pharmaceutical industry promoted hydroxychloroquine as the biggest hope against coronavirus. Don’t take our words for it. Here is what Novartis CEO said about hydroxychloroquine on March 29, according to a report from Reuters, citing Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung.
“Pre-clinical studies in animals as well as the first data from clinical studies show that hydroxychloroquine kills the coronavirus,” Narasimhan told the newspaper. “We’re working with Swiss hospitals on possible treatment protocols for the clinical use of the drug, but it’s too early to say anything definitively.”
Also in April, FDA approved Novartis to begin phase III clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine in 440 hospitalized coronavirus patients. Also in April, Yale Medical School recommended the use of hyroxychloroquine as treatment protocol for hospitalized patient with non-severe coronoavirus (COVID-19).
In a 10-page document posted on its website, Yale Medical School recommends the use of hyroxychloroquine (HCQ) as treatment protocol for hospitalized patient with non-severe coronoavirus (COVID-19) for a period of 5 days followed by 1 dose of tocilizumab used in combination with hydroxychloroquine.
Then on June 15, citing ongoing analysis of the EUA and emerging scientific data, FDA revokes emergency use authorization for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. The FDA said it revoked the authorization because the drugs did not meet “the statutory criteria” for EUA and also because the two drug weren’t likely to be effective based on the latest scientific data.
The issue of whether chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, typically used to treat malaria and rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, were effective, has been controversial from the beginning. The attempt to use it initially was based on a study published in 2005 by NIH. The study found that chloroquine prevented the replication of the SARS-CoV-1 virus that caused SARS in laboratory studies.
The question everyone was asking at the time is, what “latest scientific data” did FDA base its decision on? To answer this question, we looked at two studies published around the same time in the New England Journal of Medicine and medical journal The Lancet. The two studies found the two drugs to be unsafe and ineffective.
However, there is a problem with relying on study from the Lancet. In early June, the medical journal issued an “Expression of Concern” to alert readers to the fact that serious scientific questions have been brought to his attention about its study on hydroxychloroquine. Lancet later issued an apology and retraction of its study.
The retraction came after a report from the British newspaper Guardian found that Lancet study was based on data from a now defunct startup company Surgisphere. At the end of May, Australian infectious researchers raised questions about a study published in the Lancet which prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to halt global trials of the drug hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19.
Surgisphere Corp was later caught falsifying data for which the Lancet study was based. The revelation about the flawed data first came to light after a group of Australian infectious researchers raised questions about a controversial study published in the medical journal.
So Surgisphere Corp was caught falsifying data for the Lancet study on hydroxychloroquine
Hospitals deny ever sharing patient data w/ this mysterious database
When asked to reveal the hospitals the data came from, Surgisphere refused
Is this real life?https://t.co/mvoBpE8IrE
— James Todaro, MD (@JamesTodaroMD) May 28, 2020
Then on July 2, a bombshell hydroxychloroquine study conducted by Henry Ford Health Systems in Detroit found that hydroxychloroquine cut the death rate in half for COVID-19 patients – and without heart-related side-effects. The study was even reported by CNN. Citing the Henry Ford study, even CNN admitted hydroxychloroquine helped Covid-19 patients better survive in the hospital. In a message on Twitter, CNN said:
“A surprising new study found that the controversial antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine helped Covid-19 patients better survive in the hospital.”
A surprising new study found that the controversial antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine helped Covid-19 patients better survive in the hospital.https://t.co/j6zs4SI2Su
— CNN (@CNN) July 3, 2020
With anecdotal evidence from doctors crediting hydroxycholoroquine for saving their patients’ lives, the question needs to be raised about people who claimed they were healed by hydroxychloroquine. Even, Brazilian President Bolsonaro credited the drug for his quick recovery from coronavirus. President Bolsonaro said he was tested negative for COVID-19 less than 3 weeks after treatment with hydroxychloroquine.
In a tweet Bolsonaro said this:
“- RT-PCR para Sars-Cov 2: negativo.
– BOM DIA A TODOS.”
– RT-PCR para Sars-Cov 2: negativo.
– BOM DIA A TODOS. pic.twitter.com/CkdV59yGXP
— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@jairbolsonaro) July 25, 2020
So, why is hydroxychloroquine so controversial? According to Dr. Harvey A. Risch, MD, PhD, a professor of epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health, the malaria drug has now become the victim of a “propaganda war.” Dr. Risch said, “It’s a political drug now, not a medical drug.” He added: “I think we are basically fighting a propaganda war against the medical facts, and that colors not just population people, how they think about it, but doctors, as well.”
Dr. Risch went on to say that hydroxychloroquine has not been used properly in many studies. He stated that hydroxychloroquine has shown major success when used early in high-risk people but much less success when used late in the disease course. Third, Dr. Risch said hydroxychloroquine has been disregarded due to concerns raised by the FDA and others about risks of cardiac arrhythmia, especially when hydroxychloroquine is given in combination with azithromycin. However, Dr. Risch argues that “the FDA based its comments on data in its FDA Adverse Event Reporting System.”
At this point, you may be wondering why all of sudden the views on hydroxychloroquine changed. Dr. Simone Gold, the founder of America’s Frontline Doctors and a Los Angeles-based physician, answers the question in a video below.