The World Health Organization (WHO) has again suspended the randomized trial of hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria, saying it has little benefits for COVID-19 patients.
The WHO made the announcement at its regular press briefing from Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday, after new data showed the drug does not have a significant impact on the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
“The hydroxychloroquine arm of the SOLIDARITY trial has been stopped,” WHO expert Ana Maria Henao-Restrepo said at the briefing.
Hydroxychloroquine first gained attention as a potential COVID-19 treatment last February when two small studies suggested it might be effective against the coronavirus.
On Monday, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also rescinded the emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The announcement covers both hydroxychloroquine and a related compound, chloroquine phosphate.
FDA said the drug carries too many risks without any apparent benefit.
The authorization was first issued in March as President Donald Trump kept touting the malarial drug as a potential cure for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The drug was applied to patients hospitalized with the illness and those in clinical trials. In May, Mr. Trump he had taken the medication to prevent COVID-19, even though there was no evidence it would work.
In April, the FDA warned doctors against prescribing the drug to COVID-19 patients outside hospitals or those not undergoing clinical trials.
The decades-old drugs, hydroxychloroquine and a related compound, chloroquine phosphate, are traditionally used to treat malaria and certain autoimmune conditions, including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. The FDA’s announcement only applies to COVID-19 and does not apply to the traditional uses above.