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Fighting Hydroxychloroquine Misinformation

Aug 03, 2020 2:05 pm

JAMA Internal Medicine has posted an Editor's note on the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19; noting the sequence of dysfunction since the president promoted its use on March 21, 2020, when he said “What do you have to lose? I’ll say it again: What do you have to lose? Take it.”.

Although the FDA facilitated the availability of antimalarials through an Emergency Use Authorization, within days a man in Arizona died after ingesting a chloroquine-containing aquarium product that did not require a prescription.

Another report from JAMA Internal Medicine, Liu and colleagues  examined internet searches for purchasing chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine online showing that within 2 weeks, online searches increased 442% and 1389% for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, respectively. 

Currently available evidence is mostly negative and hampered by trial design and reporting flaws. Nevertheless, there are better well designed trials of hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 forthcoming.  Yet increases in physicians prescribing has led to at least 12 states passing emergency prescribing restrictions on hydroxychloroquine.

The downside of inappropriate HCQ use may include QT prolongation, cardiac complications, shortages for patients with autoimmune conditions and the rising demand has lead to rising HCQ costs which will most affect low-income patients who require hydroxychloroquine therapy.

The authors urge that we we not give in to non-evidence-based calls to embrace unproven therapies, especially for COVID-19, and instead "stay grounded in evidence and to fight misinformation".

The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject

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