Hydroxychloroquine is a Food & Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug for the long-term treatment and prevention of autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus. It’s a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) that decreases the swelling and pain caused by arthritis. It’s also prescribed for the treatment and prevention of acute attacks of malaria. Hydroxychloroquine is available in the US by prescriptions only. It’s sold both as a brand name and a generic version.
Hydroxychloroquine is a less toxic derivative of Chloroquine. Like Chloroquine, it’s now being used in treating hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Though it may not work well against severe cases, it helps reduces mortality rate compared to those not given the drug.
The use of this drug began in China where patients receiving Hydroxychloroquine treatment seemed to be relatively protected from the disease. Looking for a possible treatment option, doctors started conducting in vitro studies during the early outbreak of the coronavirus disease. The result of the in vitro study showed that Hydroxychloroquine, indeed, has antiviral properties against SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes the current pandemic. Clinical studies then were conducted involving COVID-19 patients. The result showed that the use of this drug significantly caused a reduction of the viral carriage compared with patients who were not given the drug. On a separate study by the French physicians, Hydroxychloroquine was reported to have reduced both the viral load and the duration of the infection paving the way for global use of the drug against the deadly virus.
The usefulness of this drug against the deadly virus has been controversial, without clear evidence and clarity, until very recently. Henry Ford Hospitals group in Detroit, Michigan, USA, proved that Hydroxychloroquine, a decade-old, cheap antimalarial drug can cut the death rate significantly in sick, hospitalized COVID patients without heart-related side effects. The study involved a large-scale retrospective analysis of hospitalized COVID patients across six hospitals. They also found that those treated with a combination of Azithromycin fared slightly better than those not treated with the said drugs. The analysis of the study shows Hydroxychloroquine helped save lives.
The recommended dose in treating patients infected with the SARS-CoV2 is two tablets of 400mg on day one. On day two, take one tablet of 400mg a day until day 5. You may also take two tablets of 200mg a day on day 2 until day 5. Do not use this drug in treating COVID-19 or to prevent yourself from getting the infection without the knowledge of your doctor.
Hydroxychloroquine is a relatively well-tolerated drug. It has been proven to be safe and has been used for several decades already. This drug can cause a rare eye condition called retinopathy when taken on a high dose and for a longer period. Renal toxicity may be rare and may not last beyond 5 years of continued use.
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