Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is a medication usually prescribed to prevent and treat malaria. It is also used to treat chronic skin inflammation and arthritis in patients whose symptoms have not improved with other treatments. Many countries have authorised the hospital use of HCQ or its use in clinical studies under the supervision of healthcare professionals. The drug is in the list of World Health Organization's essential medicines. In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, HCQ was touted to be effective and approved for use as a prophylactic drug by several countries, including India.
What are the side effects of the drug?
The most common side effects of Hydroxychloroquine are nausea, diarrhoea, stomach pain and vomiting, all of which often improve with time. The less common side effects include rash, changes in skin pigment (such as darkening or dark spots).
Why is Hydroxychloroquine in the news?
Hydroxychloroquine made headlines recently after US President Donald Trump touted it as a “gamechanger” in the global fight against Covid-19.
Can HCQ be used to treat Covid-19?
While Hydroxychloroquine is banned in some countries, it is promoted in others. Experts are divided over the use of this drug as a potential treatment for coronavirus. Some early studies showed that it might be able to shorten the duration of symptoms experienced by coronavirus patients, while others indicated it had no positive effect at all. Despite early signs of hope, many large-scale trials have not shown it to be effective for Covd-19 treatment.
The US food and drug administration (FDA), which had earlier approved emergency use of HCQ to treat adults and adolescents hospitalised with Covid-19, later revoked the decision citing clinical studies that did not find substantial benefits.
The WHO, too, announced that the HCQ arm of the solidarity trial to find an effective Covid-19 treatment was being stopped. The decision was based on the trial that showed the drug did not result in reduction of mortality of hospitalised Covid-19 patients.