By CBS4 Medical Editor Dr. Dave Hnida

(CBS4) – When President Donald Trump announced this week that he is taking the drug hydroxychloroquine, it reignited the debate over the whether the medication has a place in the everyday prevention and treatment of coronavirus. The answer to that remains unknown, but like dozens of other treatments, it continues to be studied.

There is research going on today at more than 40 medical centers across the country to see if hydroxychloroquine is a safe and effective treatment in seriously ill patients.  There is also a study going on in New York where medical professionals who have high rates of exposure to COVID-19 patients are taking the drug to see if it can prevent them from catching the virus.

The conclusion to this point: it is not proven to be an effective treatment, and its effectiveness as a prevention is unknown. In other words, it’s not yet a “game changer.”

Yet as you’ve heard, one of the biggest issues with hydroxychloroquine is its safety, especially when it comes to the heart, triggering life threatening irregular heart rhythms in some people. Therefore, you just can’t prescribe this medication like a couple of Tylenols.

Which is why the FDA gave emergency authorization on April 24 for use of hydroxychloroquine in only a hospital setting, or in an official clinical trial.

So that’s the science. And that’s the hope. You have a serious pandemic, no vaccine, so you study as many options as possible and hope to find treatments that are both safe and effective without causing harm.

As for claims and assumptions, we don’t prescribe this or any drug based on thinking such as:

We’ve heard good things about it.

Or we’ve heard many, many people are taking it.

Or even a lot of doctors take this.

And finally, it’s been around for a long time so it’s not going to hurt anyone.

Back to the science for a second on this one. When it comes to hydroxychloroquine, the Physician’s Drug Reference lists more than 90 possible side effects. Not all common, not all serious. But enough concern that people with autoimmune diseases such as Lupus or Rheumatoid arthritis who take hydroxychloroquine are monitored with blood tests and eye exams.

And while the use of any medication is a joint decision between patient and doctor, especially since ALL medications have side effects, this announcement does not give a scientific green light for America to be asking for hydroxychloroquine for treatment or prevention.

As for the reason for this blog a day after the news, I was looking to see how many patients would ask me for hydroxychloroquine today. The answer: five.  Not a scientific study, but a simple observation on how some people react to what they hear.

Dr. Dave Hnida

Comments (4)
  1. Ben Elmore says:

    This is just insane. Hydroxychloroquine is is given to millions for lupus and arthritis plus a prophylaxis for malaria to millions all under doctors guidance. Hydroxychloroquine was studied in 2005 by the NIH and

    “We report…that chloroquine has strong antiviral effects on SARS-CoV infection of primate cells. These inhibitory effects are observed when the cells are treated with the drug either before or after exposure to the virus, suggesting both prophylactic and therapeutic advantage.”

    Doctors are reporting its even more effective with zinc and this channel has done a report on a local doctor that is successfully using it. The regimen is much shorter for this treatment than any of the uses and shows much more promise than, yes you have it, stay home till you are almost dead and then come see us in the ER and we will see what we can do. Insane!

  2. There may be no point in taking hydroxychloroquine without supplpemental zinc. I think we’ll be reading about more deaths and hospitalizations due to the toxicity of this drug — it’s definitely something you shouldn’t take too much of!

  3. Rod says:

    Short answer to your question regarding taking “hydroxychloroquine,” because the individual who currently occupies the White House and has advised Americans to drink or inject “Clorox and other detergents, “NO,” Everyone should consult their “personal physician” before doing so, or even thinking of, doing so. Just saying. Be well

  4. Hannah says:

    Like anything that “Tweetie-Turd” says; it is not to be believed and if he is promoting a drug that people use to commit suicide; then let him take all he wants!

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