December 2019 marked the beginning of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)or COVID-19. Something which began in China soon crossed boundaries and claimed a number of deaths globally. Coronavirus pandemic, at present, is a global public health emergency. This has led the world to witness an upsurge in the use of sanitizers, masks, medical gloves, PPE kits, etc. With no pharmacological treatment known to cure the condition, researchers and scientists from all across the globe are testing out various drugs to combat this disease that is taking a toll on several lives.
Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine are two medications that have been making headlines as possible treatments for the COVID-19. Whether these medications are effective against COVID-19 or not is the question crossing every mind. Similar to a digital bp apparatus which is a savior for hypotension and hypertension patients, these two medications, if found effective, can be a big relief for the COVID-19 patients! The article clears the air over the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19 through an evidence-based approach. First, let us understand what chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are:
What Are Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine?
Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are medications first used to prevent or treat malaria. Hydroxychloroquine is also approved by FDA for long-term use in lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Available as pills, both are administered orally. Out of the two, the former is preferred over the latter owing to lower side effects. Below mentioned are the side effects associated with both, when taken at higher doses or for long durations:
- Irreversible visual changes
- Worsening of psoriasis
- Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose)
- QT prolongation (abnormal heart rhythm)
- Nerve pain or muscle weakness
Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine In Reference To COVID-19:
Recent in vitro studies which refer to the studies carried out in test tubes or Petri dishes rather than on animals or humans have indicated that the two medications hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine possess antiviral properties against SARS-CoV-2 which is responsible for causing COVID-19. The two medications, in these studies, have worked by interfering with the chemical environment of human cell membranes, thereby blocking the virus from entering and multiplying inside the host. However, a medication that works well in vitro doesn’t mean it will work the same once inside the human body.
Basis the early findings, hospitals all across the globe have begun using hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine on patients suffering from COVID-19. An Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) was issued by the FDA on 28 March 2020, allowing the authorities to request a supply of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The step has been initiated with the intent to help increase access to these medications by allowing healthcare professionals to request supply from the strategic national stockpile.
What Does The Research Say?
Several studies have been carried out with regards to the role of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19 and have garnered a lot of attention in recent media reports. The results of the trials have both been positive as well as negative. However, the data is still extremely limited to arrive at a conclusion and more research is required to determine the best dose, the time to give it, the associated risks, and the benefits.
Can hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine prevent or cure COVID-19?
At present, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are not FDA approved for the treatment of COVID-19. Additional data is required to establish the efficacy and safety of both the medications for treating COVID-19. All the reports, at present, are based on a small number of patients with some receiving more than the recommended dose.
Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not yet been proven to prevent COVID-19, both in community and hospital settings. Furthermore, the Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA is only for hospitalized patients who are unable to participate in a clinical trial.
Several clinical studies are still underway to find a treatment for the disease. FDA is working along with various government agencies, biopharmaceutical companies, and academic centers to expedite the process.
Organizations such as WHO have set out several rules which can help prevent catching the virus. To be on a safer side, it’s recommended to buy gloves online, have hand sanitizers handy, wear a mask and also keep other devices such as best bp monitors and glucometer, etc. at home since visiting hospitals increases the risk of one catching the virus. You can avail of these supplies from Smart Medical Buyer, as they continue to serve everyone during these tough times.