The anti-malarial drug promoted by President Donald Trump as a treatment for COVID-19 – and derided by his critics – has been found to help outpatients with the disease, a new peer-reviewed study says.
Only 3% of patients that took hydroxychloroquine along with zinc and the antibiotic azithromycin were hospitalized compared to 15% who did not take it, according to the study published in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents.
The study comes following a summer of rancor over the drug. Trump hailed it a potential cure and said this spring he was taking it as a prophylactic, or preventive, medicine.
Despite the drug being approved in the U.S. for the treatment of malaria, many assailed Trump, some claiming he was recommending using fish tank cleaner.
The British medical journal The Lancet published a story saying the drug was potentially toxic, then withdrew it because the data was fraudulent. The FDA approved emergency use authorization and then withdrew it after studies claimed it was ineffective against COVID.
However, advocates for hydroxychloroquine claim it might not be effective for patients already hospitalized, but those with milder symptoms could benefit, the Washington Examiner reported.
Among the studies that said hydroxychloroquine was ineffective was one published in the New England Journal of Medicine in June that did not include zinc or azithromycin.
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