TUCSON, Ariz., June 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Until President Trump suggested that hydroxychloroquine (HCQ, Plaquenil™) might help COVID-19 patients, it was generally considered a very safe drug, observes the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons (AAPS). It was approved by the FDA in 1955 and has been used by hundreds of millions of patients worldwide for malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Physicians do not generally require an electrocardiogram before prescribing it.
Apparently because of alarming media coverage, many patients are now expressing fear that HCQ is dangerous because of cardiac effects, states AAPS. Outgoing AMA president Patrice Harris, M.D., told the media that "you could lose your life."
Widely reported studies have been stopped because of lack of benefit in seriously ill hospitalized COVID-19 patients and the occurrence of cardiac rhythm disturbances. AAPS notes the following:
Late in the disease, antivirals are unlikely to help because patients are dying of organ damage and blood clots, possibly due to immune overreaction.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus may infect the heart, and this may cause arrhythmias.
Doses of HCQ in some trials, such as the UK's "Recovery" trial and the multinational World Health Organization (WHO) Solidarity trial may be toxic or even lethal, and much higher than recommended for any medical condition. The cumulative dose of this long-acting drug in the "Recovery" trial (9.6 grams) is four times as high as used in India.
Americans are being urged to "follow the science." But AAPS asks: "How can we trust the established authorities or prestigious journals when, in this perilous time, trials of an available, inexpensive, long-established drug appear to be designed to fail, while risking the lives of their subjects through deliberate or negligent drug overdoses?"