A recent National Institutes of Health clinical trial evaluated the medication long touted by President Donald J. Trump as a pandemic prevention or cure. The trial “has formally concluded that the drug provides no clinical benefit to hospitalized patients.”
The Outcomes Related to COVID-19 treated with Hydroxychloroquine among Inpatients with symptomatic Disease trial, or ORCHID, examined the safety and effectiveness of the drug in treating adults with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The latest data and final analyses led to the conclusion that, while it caused no harm, hydroxychloroquine is no better than a placebo.
“We hope this clear result will help practitioners make informed treatment decisions and researchers continue their efforts pursuing other possible safe and effective treatments for patients suffering with this disease,” said Dr. James P. Kiley. Kiley is the Director of the Division of Lung Diseases at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which is part of the NIH.
“Having a rigorously designed clinical trial that captured patient-centered, clinically meaningful outcomes was critical to reaching the unequivocal conclusions about the use of hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19. ORCHID shows that hydroxychloroquine does not improve clinical outcomes in hospitalized COVID-19 patients,” Kiley said.
ORCHID began after studies and reports suggested that malaria and rheumatic arthritis treatment might help treat SARS-CoV-2. The trial has involved 479 patients at 34 U.S. hospitals from April to June. Researchers could find no evidence of any benefit for the patients. The control group that received a placebo had comparable death rates and health statuses as those administered hydroxychloroquine.
“The finding that hydroxychloroquine is not effective for the treatment of COVID-19 was consistent across patient subgroups and for all evaluated outcomes, including clinical status, mortality, organ failures, duration of oxygen use, and hospital length of stay,” said Dr. Wesley Self, who led the ORCHID trial. He said the findings were consistent with trials in the U.K. and Brazil.