Trust Index: Is Hydroxychloroquine safe for COVID-19 use?
HOUSTON – We are looking into the much talked about drug that some believe can help in the fight against coronavirus. President Trump surprised many people by saying he’s taking the drug. We wanted to put the drug claims to the Trust Index.
The drug Hydroxychloroquine has not been proven to help with coronavirus. Still, President Donald Trump says he believes in it.
"A couple of weeks ago, I started taking it,” said Trump on Monday. “Because I've heard it's good. I've heard a lot of good stories. And if it is not good, I will tell you right. I'm not going to get hurt by it.”
We put claims about Hydroxychloroquine through the Trust Index and found it’s not a proven treatment for the coronavirus. Those claims are not true.
The drug brings serious risks
Taking Hydroxychloroquine is not proven for coronavirus treatment. The FDA warns of potentially serious risks, including heart problems, unusual bleeding, and erratic behavior. Dr. Joshua Septimus with Houston Methodist uses it for other illnesses and confirms, it’s not for everyone.
“Patients who take it do have a risk not only for the highly publicized heart risk, making your heart rhythm is not working normally, it can also cause cardiomyopathy which is a fancy doctor way of saying heart failure,” Dr. Septimus explains. “Those side effects are higher the older you are.”
Hydroxychloroquine is typically used to treat certain conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus and is also an anti-Malaria drug.
“I have declined to prescribe it for COVID19,” said Dr. Septimus. “I’ve had many, many patients ask me about it over the course of the last several weeks.”
You may remember, last month doctors from a Texas City senior living facility treated coronavirus patients with a Hydroxychloroquine and antibiotic combo.
“I believe we need to make sure the therapies we are offering to patients are safe and effective and since we don’t have that data I have not wanted to go out on a limb because I know the risk of this drug,” said Dr. Septimus.
Not enough evidence to prove it helps
When it comes to this drug helping fight COVID-19, we rate it "red" on our Trust Index. The experts we talked to say it's too unproven at this time to be recommended to patients. There's just not enough evidence out there to prove otherwise.
Dr. Septimus said the only way he thinks it is safe to take this drug to treat coronavirus is in a highly controlled scenario, like a trial. There is a government trial now underway to see if it can be given with an antibiotic to prevent hospitalization and death from Coronavirus. About 2,000 patients are taking part in that study.
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