United Kingdom halts hydroxychloroquine trials

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Professor Landray announced the drug was being dropped from Recovery - the world's biggest coronavirus trial of promising drugs - at a press conference today.

"The Surgisphere database in the retracted Lancet study has been in the spotlight because of its size a" almost 100,000 patients".

The anti-malaria drug has been touted as a "miracle cure" for Covid-19, but the scientific evidence so far is confusing. Small-scale studies in China and France then hinted it might help patients. Backers say hydroxychloroquine has been used safely for 60 years to prevent and treat malaria by blocking parasites from invading red blood cells.

The Recovery trial, which has recruited 11,000 patients across the NHS ranging in age from one to 109, has been looking at a total of six different treatments with the hydroxychloroquine arm of the trial the first to report results.

It is the largest randomised trial into the drug and its results could have a knock-on effect around the globe.

In some patients with severe COVID-19, the study said a large amount of cytokines are released in the body all at once, causing the immune system to damage the function of organs such as the lungs - a process known as a "cytokine storm".

Due to mounting controversy about the drug, the UK's drugs regulator last night asked the Oxford researchers to review their data.

Conclusions of the study suggested that coronavirus patients taking chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine showed irregular heartbeats and therefore faced a higher chance of dying while undergoing treatment.

The randomised clinical trial-considered the gold standard for clinical investigation-and has recruited a total of 11,000 patients from patients from 175 hospitals in the United Kingdom to test a range of drugs.

United Kingdom halts hydroxychloroquine trials
United Kingdom halts hydroxychloroquine trials

"This is not a treatment for Covid", said Prof Martin Landray, part of the Recovery trial.

The findings come in the wake of deep concern in academic publishing that led to an article being retracted in the Lancet - one of the world's most prestigious medical journals.

Two papers related to COVID-19 appearing in major journals that relied on data from Surgisphere Corp. were retracted on Thursday.

It concluded that the drug showed no benefits against coronavirus and increased the risk of patients developing irregular heart rhythms and dying.

On May 25, the World Health Organization announced it had temporarily suspended the trials to conduct a safety review, which has now concluded there is "no reason" to change the way the trials are conducted.

The article carried the bylines of four scientists at medical centers in the U.S. Data was analyzed by the firm Surgisphere in Chicago.

When an independent third-party peer review of Surgisphere data was initiated with the consent of the co-authors of the study to evaluate the origination of the database, and to replicate the analyses presented in the paper, the peer reviewers said Surgisphere would not transfer the full dataset.

"I'm concerned that the usual standards, both at the level of the journals and at the level of authors and faculty rushing to get high-impact work published, has meant that our usual standards have fallen", stated Steven Joffe, a medical ethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, in The Washington Post.

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