The famed drug in COVID-19: Details unfold
Presently, there is a shortage of HCQswhich indicates that patients taking this medicine are having a hard time getting the required treatment.
This drug had been found to be effective on the SARS-CoV-2. It has an inhibitory antiviral effect on the novel virus. This drug had been administered to many affected patients either alone or with azithromycin. This drug had shown to be clinically beneficial in several small single centred studies through significant limitations. On March 28, 2020 FDA had issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the drug. But this is often misinterpreted. EUA means increase in access to the medicine and not approval for the treatment of COVID-19.
Based on the guidelines provided by ICMR, this was suggested only for frontline asymptomatic workers involved in care of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19. The recommended dosage was 400 mg twice a day on the first day followed by 400mg once weekly for the next 7 weeks and medicines was advised to be taken with meals. Contraindications clearly stated retinopathy, hypersensitivity as well as pre-existing cardiovascular problems. ICMR also stated that electrocardiogram (ECG) should be done prior to prescribing HCQ prophylaxis.
There is lack of enough medical data to prove efficacy of HCQs. FDA has issued warning of heart related side effects of drug if administered without medical guidance.
HCQs like most of the pharmaceutical drugs have mild to adverse side effects that sometimes has added to the fatality of cases. This is the reason why this drug is presently under review to understand its efficacy as well as considering the safety dosage. Some of the enlisted side effects include nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, hypoglycaemia and cardio-vascular effects. FDA has issued a statement that hydroxychloroquine should not be administered without medical supervision since it may lead to heart rhythm irregularities.
Of late our Health Ministry has also stated the usage of the drug should be restricted to early symptoms in course of the treatment. And should be best avoided for patients with co-existing chronic diseases. This should be followed to achieve a meaningful effect of the drug.
A solidarity trial is ongoing to discover an efficacious treatment against COVID-19 being carried out by WHO and partners. They are currently evaluating the use of HCQs and hence this arm of trial has been paused.
Thus, even doctors and pharmacists are being discouraged presently from inappropriate prescribing of this medication that can prevent medication stockpiling and potential drug shortages. And this would enable patients with SLE and rheumatoid arthritis to fetch the medication and reduce their risk of complications.
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