Chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin are being used to treat and prevent COVID-19 despite weak evidence for effectiveness, and physicians and patients should be aware of the drugs’ potentially serious adverse events, states a review in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
“Physicians and patients should be aware of several rare but potentially life-threatening adverse effects of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine,” says Dr. David Juurlink, Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and a senior scientist at ICES.
The review provides an overview of potential harms associated with these drugs as well as their management based on the best available evidence.
Potential adverse effects include
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Neuropsychiatric effects, such as agitation, confusion, hallucinations and paranoia
- Interactions with other drugs
- Metabolic variability (some people metabolize chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine poorly and a small percentage metabolize them rapidly, which affects the response to treatment)
- Overdose (chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are highly toxic in overdose and can cause seizures, coma and cardiac arrest)
- Drug shortages (patients with autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other chronic diseases, who take hydroxychloroquine to treat these conditions could have problems accessing this drug)
Hydroxychloroquine evaluated to treat, prevent COVID-19: University of Pennsylvania trial
The review summarizes the poor quality of evidence suggesting that these treatments might be beneficial in patients with COVID-19 and cautions that it is possible that these treatments could worsen the disease.
“Despite optimism (in some, even enthusiasm) for the potential of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19, little consideration has been given to the possibility that the drugs might negatively influence the course of disease,” says Dr. Juurlink. “This is why we need a better evidence base before routinely using these drugs to treat patients with COVID-19.”
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2 thoughts on “COVID-19 treatment: Potential harms of chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin”
Fake News, Fake Report, Ambiguous at best, worthless.
Side effects of Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine are well know and safe dosage guidelines are well established.
Prescribed in a hospital setting under observation is the best possible way to evaluate whether dosages used for Malaria, or potentially lower doses than used for Malaria, can be helpful.
Overdose is bad? Sure overdose of Acetaminophen is bad, too, but most people don’t even read the label. You people can do better than this – or you can go and work for Corrupt News Network!