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Hydroxychloroquine – what’s the deal?

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says; “it has no opinion on the use of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients.” They stated that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine don’t cause blindness, but 1% to 2% of patients who take the drugs to treat autoimmune conditions such as lupus experience retinal problems during a five-year course of treatment. 

Pres Trump stirred up a big debate when he announced he is taking hydroxychloroquine as a prophylaxis to counter Covid -19.

Chloroquine has been known for a long time as the malaria drug, with the potential to harm the retina. Hydroxychloroquine is used to treat lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or malaria. Because of the risk of retinal damage it is recommended that patients on the drug have an annual eye exam.

The AAO has noted that patients with COVID-19, take double the usual dosage. COVID-19 patients, but take the medication for only one to two weeks. The AAO suggests that if you are over 50, have a history of retinal disease or macular degeneration, or have undergone tamoxifen therapy for breast cancer, you should consult your doctor before embarking on hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine treatment. 

“You may be better off considering an alternate treatment,” the AAO says.

How much of these drugs someone takes each day and the length of time that someone has taken them are two of the key factors associated with this type of retinopathy.

As the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and many other medical groups point out, there’s no scientific evidence that either hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine is effective in treating COVID-19..

study published in April 2020 suggests that hydroxychloroquine, prescribed with or without the antibiotic azithromycin, decreases neither COVID-19 death rates nor the need for mechanical breathing help. In fact, the study found hydroxychloroquine alone increases the risk of death. The study examined 368 men at Veterans Affairs hospitals in the U.S. who’d been treated for COVID-19 in March and April 2020. These findings aren’t considered conclusive, though, since the study included a relatively small number of COVID-19 patients and was a limited observational review rather than a more trustworthy clinical review

Cautions against use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine

The American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and Heart Rhythm Society have urged caution in prescribing hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for COVID-19 treatment. They cited “potential serious implications” for patients with cardiovascular disease.

Alluding to the potential heart problems, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises against administering hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine other than at hospitals or in clinical trials.

The bottom line is there is no concrete evidence that hydroxychloroquine is of any benefit in the treatment of Covid-19 patients. Instead there are several warning lights flashing.

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