Explained – Hydroxychloroquine
The government has decided to ease its ban on the export of hydroxychloroquine, a drug that has garnered global interest in the treatment and prevention of COVID-19.
What is hydroxychloroquine?
It is an antimalarial drug option, considered less toxic than chloroquine, and prescribed in certain cases. Doctors also prescribe hydroxychloroquine for patients of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Why is it in news?
In a study last month in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents (IJAA), French scientists reported: “Twenty cases were treated… and showed a significant reduction of the viral carriage… compared to controls, and much lower average carrying duration than reported of untreated patients in the literature. Azithromycin (an antibiotic) added to hydroxychloroquine was significantly more efficient for virus elimination.”
What does India say?
At the end of last month, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) issued an advisory recommending the use of hydroxychloroquine in asymptomatic healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients, and also allowed doctors to prescribe it for household contacts of confirmed COVID-19 patients. However, the government has stressed that the drug can only be used in COVID-19 treatment on prescription, and that it should not instil a sense of “false security”.
Is it effective?
In the World Health Organization (WHO) solidarity trial, of which India is a part, clinicians worldwide are to follow a common protocol to treat patients with hydroxychloroquine. The second is the chloroquine accelerator trial, largely funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As of now, the jury is still out on how effective these drugs can be against the virus.
Source – The Indian Express
QUESTION – What is ‘hydroxychloroquine’? Has it proven to be effective in the fight against COVID-19?