Hydroxychloroquine’s Off-Label Use Linked to 17,000 Deaths: Study Unveils Disturbing Impact

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The antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, championed as a potential cure for COVID-19 during the pandemic, may have led to approximately 17,000 deaths across six countries in the initial wave of the global health crisis. The drug, prescribed off-label, gained prominence due to endorsements by figures like French microbiologist Didier Raoult. Notably, this belief in its efficacy extended to policymakers, with French President Emmanuel Macron visiting Raoult’s facility and former US President Donald Trump advocating for the drug’s use.

Controversy Surrounding Hydroxychloroquine’s Unsubstantiated Prominence

Despite the drug’s widespread off-label use, controversy ensued as the medical community expressed concerns about the lack of scientific evidence supporting hydroxychloroquine’s effectiveness against COVID-19. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) initially granted emergency use authorization in March 2020 but revoked it by June due to concerns about severe side effects, including heart rhythm abnormalities.

New Study Unveils Alarming Death Toll Linked to Hydroxychloroquine

A recent study published in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, led by Professor Jean-Christophe Lega from Lyon, France, delves into the consequences of hydroxychloroquine’s off-label usage. The study examines data from France, the United States, Belgium, Italy, Spain, and Turkey, spanning March to July 2020. The findings, based on a meta-analysis from 2021, indicate an 11% increase in the mortality rate associated with hydroxychloroquine use during that period.

Estimated Deaths Across European Countries Raise Concerns

The estimated death toll linked to hydroxychloroquine in European countries raises alarming concerns. The study suggests roughly 240 deaths in Belgium, 199 in France, 1,822 in Italy, and 1,895 in Spain. Professor Lega emphasizes that these are rough estimates, with the actual number of deaths likely higher. While cautioning about the statistical nature of the analysis, the researchers advocate for strict regulations on off-label prescriptions during future pandemics based on their findings.

Call for Tighter Regulations: Study Highlights Need for Caution in Drug Prescriptions

In light of the study’s outcomes, researchers urge a more cautious approach to off-label prescriptions during future pandemics. Despite certain limitations, including data scarcity in France, Turkey, and Belgium, the statistical analysis underlines the potential dangers associated with widespread and unregulated use of drugs like hydroxychloroquine during health crises. The call for tighter regulations aims to prevent such situations in the future and emphasizes the importance of evidence-based medical practices in combating pandemics.

SOURCE: Ref Image from Time

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