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Save the patient, Save the Drug, Doctors on hydroxy-chloroquine in war against COVID-19

  • HEALTH
  • TeamPresentMirror | Updated: March 24, 2020, 6:44 a.m.




It is in no manner, prescribed to be used by pharmacies like popping pills for the general public. Every drug has an effect and a side effect. In Nigeria patients suffered poisoning after chloroquine was given to them for treatment of COVID-19. This virus has been found to adapt to conditions at a faster rate.


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United States President Donald Trump has tweeted drugs which may be pathbreaking in countering COVID-19, namely Hydroxy-chloroquine and Azithromycin. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) too has recommended use of Hydroxy-chloroquine for health workers and those who may be exposed to COVID-19 infections while taking care of them.

"Hydroxy-chloroquine is found to be effective against coronavirus in laboratory studies and in-vivostudies. Its use in prophylaxis is derived from available evidence of benefit as treatment and supportedby pre-clinical data. The following recommendation for the use of hydroxy-chloroquine as a prophylacticagent against SARS-CoV-2 infection is based on these considerations, as well as risk-benefit consideration, under exceptional circumstances that call for the protection of high-risk individuals.," ICMR claimed in its report on Monday.

The point for caution here is this drug has been recommended for use only for Asymptomatic healthcare workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 and asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory confirmed cases. It is in no manner, prescribed to be used by pharmacies like popping pills for the general public. Every drug has an effect and a side effect, says Dr. Hemant Thacker Cardio-Metabolic Specialist in Mumbai.

The drug hydroxy-chloroquine is a derivative of chloroquine. Chloroquine is used as an anti-malarial drug and it has known cardiac side effects. Hydroxy-chloroquine has milder side effects as compared to chloroquine and it is still under preclinical phase and should be used only in extreme conditions for treatment of COVID-19 positive patients. Even doctors at ICMR has not recommended this drug for prophylaxis in children under 15 years of age.The drug is said to be contraindicated in persons with known case of retinopathy and hypersensitivity. In Nigeria patients suffered poisoning after chloroquine was given to them for treatment of COVID-19.

Dr. Subramanyam Swaminathan in a television debate on republic tv, raised a very valid point on adaptability abilities of the SARS-COV-2 virus. This virus has been found to adapt to conditions at a faster rate.If a large majority of general public starts taking these pills without advice of a doctor, then this virus may develop community adaptability to the drug and all efforts of ICMR as well as US agencies may go in vain. This drug should be reserved specifically for those critical ICU pneumonia COVID-19 patients. Hence it is to be taken care that rampant misuse of the drug is avoided.

When the use of drug is purely based on anecdotal evidences, and aim is to not let the COVID-19 virus develop adaptability, risk is high. India should go ahead with the phrase, “Save the Drug, Save the Patient”.

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