Researchers conducted a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial across the United States and Canada to test Hydroxychloroquine as a post-exposure prophylaxis.
Taking hydroxychloroquine, or commonly known as HCQ, is no more effective in protecting people exposed to the novel coronavirus than a placebo, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has suggested.
A placebo is a medicine prescribed for psychological benefit to a patient rather than for any physiological effect.
Researchers conducted a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial across the United States and Canada to test HCQ as a post-exposure prophylaxis.
They recruited people who were at moderate or high risk of contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Most of these individuals were deemed at high risk because they had been within two metres of someone with the virus, for more than 10 minutes without any protective gear.
The trial was set up to compare what happens to people given HCQ within four days of exposure and to those given dummy pills.
Each trail participant was delivered a package containing either placebo or HCQ within four days of exposure. The pills were to be taken over five days, starting with a stronger dose on day one.
The study found that 107 out of 821 (roughly one in eight) participants developed COVID-19 over the 14-day follow-up period.
Of those who were given HCQ, 49 developed COVID-19 or linked symptoms such as fever or cough. This was compared to 58 others in the group that received the placebo. One in each of the two groups had to be treated in hospital. There were no deaths.
The findings come at a time when the World Health Organization (WHO) is set to resume its trial of HCQ for potential use against the novel coronavirus.
In May, the UN agency had temporarily suspended the part of its large study of treatments against COVID-19 in which newly enrolled patients were getting the anti-malarial drug to treat COVID-19 due to fears it increased death rates and irregular heartbeats.
Hydroxychloroquine sulfate was first synthesised in 1946 and is in a class of medications historically used to treat and prevent malaria. It is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat malaria, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, childhood arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases.
Many, including US President Donald Trump have called hydroxychloroquine a "game-changer" drug in the fight against the coronavirus.
Trump had earlier announced that he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive medicine against the coronavirus despite medical warnings about the use of the malaria drug.Click here for Moneycontrol’s full coverage of the novel coronavirus pandemic