New York: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said it was withdrawing the emergency use authorization (EUA) of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for treating COVID-19 patients because data showed they “are unlikely to be effective” and had “serious side effects”.
Hydroxychloroquine was frequently touted by President Donald Trump, and he has claimed to have used it himself.
However, Health Secretary Alex Azar clarified that the FDA ruling was limited to hospital use with “the most extreme cases” and the medicines have not been completely banned and doctors can continue to prescribe them.
“We continue to study in out-patient settings, as well as preventive. That data is not yet in,” he added.
The FDA said the withdrawal of the EUA was “in light of ongoing serious cardiac adverse events and other potential serious side effects, the known and potential benefits of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine no longer outweigh the known and potential risks”.
The EUA allows medication to treat an ailment on an emergency basis without a full authorization for the specific disease for which other medicines are not available.
In addition to treating malaria, hydroxychloroquine is often used by doctors to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. It is known to have serious side effects, including muscle weakness and heart arrhythmia.