Researchers examining chloroquine (CQ), an antimalarial medication often suggested as a potential treatment for COVID-19, ended their study early over fears that patients were at an increased risk of significant heart complications. High doses of CQ, the study’s authors observed, were “not sufficiently safe to warrant continuation of that particular study arm.”
The team’s research has been published on medRxiv, an online server for articles that have yet to receive a thorough peer review.
“In a unique pandemic situation, health professionals have to choose between offering medical assistance and generating and reporting reliable data, a dichotomy that compromises the generation of good quality evidence for clinical management,” wrote author Mayla Gabriela Silva Borba, Amazonas State University in Brazil, and colleagues.
“Global recommendations for COVID-19 are being made based on unpowered studies, however, and due to the chaotic urgency, such drugs are being prescribed in a compassionate manner given the severity of this disease. CQ, despite being a safe drug used for more than 70 years for malaria, might be toxic in the dosages recommended by Chinese authorities.”