US revokes emergency use of malaria drugs vs. coronavirus

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Hydroxychloroquine

FILE – This April 7, 2020 file photo shows a bottle of hydroxychloroquine tablets in Texas City, Texas. Several authors of a large study that raised safety concerns about malaria drugs for coronavirus patients have retracted the report, saying independent reviewers were not able to verify information that’s been widely questioned by other scientists. A retraction in the journal Lancet on Thursday, June 4, 2020 involved a May 22 report on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, drugs long used for preventing or treating malaria but whose safety and effectiveness for COVID-19 are unknown. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is revoking its emergency authorization for malaria drugs promoted by President Donald Trump for treating COVID-19 amid growing evidence they don’t work and could cause deadly side effects.

The agency said Monday that the drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are unlikely to be effective in treating the coronavirus. Citing reports of heart complications, the FDA said the drugs pose a greater risk to patients than any potential benefits.

The decades-old drugs, also prescribed for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, can cause heart rhythm problems, severely low blood pressure and muscle or nerve damage.

The move means that shipments of the drugs obtained by the federal government will no longer be distributed to state and local health authorities. The drugs are still available for alternate uses, so U.S. doctors could still prescribe them for COVID-19 — a practice known as off-label prescribing.

On Thursday, a National Institutes of Health expert panel revised its guidelines to specifically recommend against the drug’s use except in formal studies.

Trump aggressively pushed the drug beginning in the first weeks of the outbreak and stunned medical professionals when he revealed he took the drug preemptively against infection.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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