Lee Health specialist says take hydroxychloroquine info with a grain of salt

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Credit: via CBS local.

The use of hydroxychloroquine to treat people who have contracted the coronavirus remains highly debated. There are different messages at the federal level to the local level. We spoke to a health expert in Southwest Florida about her views of the drug’s use to help speed up the recovery of patients with COVID-19.

Liz Caulder is Lee Health’s pharmacy and clinical specialist for infectious diseases. She says there is no sure thing about hydroxychloroquine use to treat COVID-19.

“Right now, Lee Health is not using hydroxychloroquine for patients who are admitted to our facilities,” Caulder said.

Caulder says there are several reasons for that.

“The clinical evidence and the national guideline recommendations, including the [National Institute of Health] really recommend against the routine use of hydroxychloroquine in patients for COVID.”

But that doesn’t mean you can’t find studies supporting its use. The latest supportive study comes from the Henry Ford Health System, which says hydroxychloroquine significantly lowered death rates for its COVID-19 patients.

But Caulder and others say everyone should take small, non-controlled and retrospective studies like that with a grain of salt.

“The majority of patients might get better on their own, really with only supportive care,” Caulder said. “And so how do you actually know that the clinical benefit is hydroxychloroquine?”

“That’s really why we need these prospective controlled clinical trials to answer that question for us,” She said.

One of those studies is led by Dr. David Boulware with the University of Minnesota, and it involved more than 800 people. Half were given hydroxychloroquine and the other half a placebo.

“Our clinical trial showed that hydroxychloroquine does not prevent COVID-19,” Boulware said. “Of course, we were disappointed. We would have liked for this to work. But our objective really was to answer the question and to conduct a really high-quality study.”

The FDA has revoked the drug’s emergency use authorization and both the World Health Organization and NIH have ended their hydroxychloroquine trials.


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