A box of Plaquenil, an anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine made by Sanofi, used for years to treat malaria and autoimmune disorders.
Alain Pitton | NurPhoto | Getty Images
Hydroxychloroquine, the drug backed by President Donald Trump to combat Covid-19, is no better than a placebo in preventing infection of the coronavirus, according to results expected to be published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The study, the first randomized, placebo-controlled trial, which is considered the “gold standard” in science, looked at 821 people in the United States and Canada who had been exposed to the coronavirus. About 12% of the people who were given the malaria drug developed Covid-19, compared to 14% who did not receive the drug, according to the study’s findings.
The study was led by Dr. David Boulware, an infectious disease researcher at the University of Minnesota.
In addition to malaria, hydroxychloroquine is often used by doctors to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. It is known to have serious side effects, including muscle weakness and heart arrhythmia. Numerous clinical trials are looking to see if it’s effective in fighting Covid-19, but it is not a proven treatment.
Even though the drug is not a proven treatment for the coronavirus, some people across the world have been taking it after a handful of small studies published earlier in the year suggested it could be beneficial and Trump promoted the drug as a potential treatment for the virus.
Also Wednesday, the World Health Organization said it was resuming its trial of hydroxychloroquine after temporarily halting research over safety concerns.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.