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COVID-19: ICMR to review effectiveness of HCQ after doubts on its efficacy

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New Delhi, May 21: ICMR is mulling a revision of its recommendation to use hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for treatment of COVID-19 patients after doubts were raised over the effectiveness of the drug.

Asked if the government is planning to drop HCQ from the COVID-19 treatment plan and also as preventive medication, Head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at ICMR, Dr Raman R Gangakhedkar on Wednesday said, "A decision in this regard will be taken following a review of all the evidence we are collecting."

COVID-19: ICMR to review effectiveness of HCQ after doubts on its efficacy

Meanwhile, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is conducting an observational study in which five hospitals have been enrolled to assess the efficacy of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a preventive medication against COVID-19 among healthcare personnel.

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According to an ICMR official, there is limited evidence on the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine to deal with COVID-19 cases and therefore, there is not enough proof to recommend it for use by the general public as of now.

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    The ICMR has recommended the use of the drug as a preventive medication to healthcare workers and household contacts looking after a positive case.

    Besides, the Union Health Ministry has recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine in combination with azithromycin for patients suffering from severe COVID-19 and requiring ICU management.

    Hydroxychloroquine is one among the four treatment protocols that are being evaluated during the randomised controlled clinical trials under the WHO's Solidarity trial to find an effective treatment for COVID-19 across select hospitals.

    The other three treatment protocols are remdesivir, a combination of lopinavir and ritonavir, and lopinavir and ritonavir with interferon beta-1a.

    Hydroxychloroquine is an old and inexpensive drug used to treat malaria. India is the largest producer of the drug globally.

    Hydroxychloroquine recently failed in two separate randomised controlled trials conducted in China and France, the findings of which were published in the BMJ journal on May 15.

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