FDA officially 'cautions against' using hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued an official warning against using the drug President Trump once called a "game changer" in the coronavirus fight.

On Friday, the FDA announced it "is aware of reports of serious heart rhythm problems in patients with COVID-19 treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine" and of "increased use of these medicines through outpatient prescriptions." Therefore, it's issuing a statement of caution against using the drugs outside of hospitals, concluding "hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19."

"Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can cause abnormal heart rhythms," especially when used in conjunction with some other medications, or on patients with "other health issues such as heart and kidney disease," the FDA said in its Friday release. The FDA went on to note that clinical trials are still ongoing to determine the drugs' actual effectiveness, and that it has authorized them for "temporary use" in "hospitalized patients."

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Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are commonly used to treat malaria and lupus, but can be toxic when used indiscriminately. Trump spent the early days of the coronavirus pandemic implying the two drugs could be miracle coronavirus treatments, seemingly drawing his medical advice from Fox News and Rudy Giuliani. He and Fox News have since backed off the claims, and Dr. Anthony Fauci has repeatedly said there is no solid evidence to back up using the drugs to treat coronavirus.

Dr. Rick Bright, the federal official formerly leading coronavirus vaccine development, said he was ousted this week after he "limited the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine" because their usage in coronavirus patients "clearly lack[s] scientific merit."

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Kathryn Krawczyk

Kathryn is a graduate of Syracuse University, with degrees in magazine journalism and information technology, along with hours to earn another degree after working at SU's independent paper The Daily Orange. She's currently recovering from a horse addiction while living in New York City, and likes to share her extremely dry sense of humor on Twitter.