New Research Highlights Concerns Related to Use of Chloroquine, Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin for Treating COVID-19 Patients

On March 28, the Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorization for prescribing anti-malarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat patients with COVID-19 when deemed appropriate by a healthcare provider. Now, research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal cautions there is weak evidence these two medications, and antibiotic azithromycin, can effectively treat and prevent COVID-19, and the drugs carry potentially serious risks.

According to Science Daily, physicians are advised to manage these medications closely and be aware of the following rare, but serious, harms that can result from use:

  • cardiac arrhythmias
  • hypoglycemia
  • neuropsychiatric effects, such as agitation, confusion, hallucinations and paranoia
  • interactions with other drugs
  • metabolic variability
  • overdose (can cause seizures, coma and cardiac arrest)
  • drug shortages for patients with autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other chronic diseases who depend on hydroxychloroquine

Science Daily also reports study author David Juurlink says physicians need a “better evidence base before routinely using these drugs to treat patients with COVID-19,” especially because it’s possible “that the drugs might negatively influence the course of disease.”

MLMIC encourages policyholders to visit our COVID-19 resource page for important updates and information on the pandemic.