Hydroxychloroquine shows no COVID-19 benefit, Oxford study says

Eric Pfanner and James Paton

A U.K. study evaluating malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in hospitalized patients with Covid-19 was stopped after preliminary analysis found it didn’t have any benefit.

About 26% of patients in the trial using the drug died, compared with about 24% receiving the usual care. The finding casts further doubt on the effectiveness of the controversial drug as a treatment for Covid-19, after a series of trial setbacks.

In this April 6, 2020 file photo, a pharmacist holds a bottle of the drug hydroxychloroquine.

“These data convincingly rule out any meaningful mortality benefit,” the investigators said in a statement on the University of Oxford’s website.

The release of the Oxford data follows the retraction of a study that was published in The Lancet medical journal, which showed increased heart and death risks in patients taking the drug. Following the initial publication of that report last month, the World Health Organization temporarily halted the hydroxychloroquine portion of a comparative trial of potential Covid-19 therapies, before restarting it.

U.S. President Donald Trump has touted the drug, saying he took a course of it as a preventative measure.