The Spanish health officials have said it sees no reason to stop the use of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), the potentially dangerous medicine touted as a Covid-19 treatment by the US president.
Several European nations, including France, Italy, and Belgium, have decided to suspend prescription of the anti-malaria drug, which came to international prominence after US President Donald Trump said the medicine could be used to tackle Covid-19 and that he himself was taking it.
The Spanish health agency, AEMPS, said the paper published by the magazine Lancet, which warned about health risks associated with HCQ, was not conclusive enough to stop testing it at Spanish hospitals. “It is an observational study, not a clinical trial,” a spokesman for AEMPS explained.
HCQ, which is also used to treat autoimmune diseases like lupus, has been widely prescribed in Spain to Covid-19 patients, with the country enduring one of the worst outbreaks of the disease in Europe. According to El Pais, 85 percent of patients taken to hospital with the coronavirus received the medicine.
The Lancet study found a higher mortality rate among Covid-19 patients who had received HCQ. The World Health Organization (WHO) decided to pause clinical trials of the medicine for coronavirus treatment following the report’s publication.
The US Food and Drug Administration has allowed healthcare providers to use hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 through an emergency-use authorization but has not approved them to treat it.