A study of over 1,000 patients at a New York City hospital found the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine did not appear to help COVID-19 patients any more than those who did not get the treatment.
In the study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers looked at medical records of 1,376 patients who got hydroxychloroquine at New York-Presbyterian Hospital — finding they had about the same risk of intubation and of death as patients who did not get the medicine.
"Patients who received the drug didn't fare any better than patients who didn't," Neil Schluger, the hospital's chief of pulmonary and critical care and one of the study's authors, told The Wall Street Journal. "Our strong feeling is the drug should not be routinely administered to patients with [COVID-19]."
Schluger, an epidemiology professor at Columbia University Medical Center, and the other authors support further testing of hydroxychloroquine in more rigorous clinical drug trials.
Dozens of the studies are under way, the Journal noted.
The Journal reported the results are not definitive, however. Unlike the most rigorous drug trials, patients in the study were not divided at random into one group getting the drug and another that did not. Researchers reviewed how patients fared after the fact. Also, patients got a mix of treatments, including other drugs.
The study also could not say whether hydroxychloroquine provides benefit or harm, though researchers said they did not observe any major harms from use of the drug.
The National Institutes of Health funded the study.
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