Is hydroxychloroquine an effective treatment?
Among the most publicly contested questions about the coronavirus was whether the drug hydroxychloroquine was an effective treatment, with anecdotal reports of nurses using it as a preventative measure and coronavirus patients surviving after it was used as a treatment, often in conjunction with Zithromax and zinc, as long as they did not have an underlying heart condition.
Two studies from influential medical journals — The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet — were recently retracted because auditors were not able to access all of the necessary information to verify the data.
An investigative report from The Guardian last week revealed WHO and several national governments altered their COVID-19 policies based on flawed data from a U.S. healthcare analytics company called Surgisphere.
The company claimed to have obtained the data from over 1,000 hospitals from around the world, which formed the basis of the now-retracted studies. The journals requested that the studies be withdrawn because Surgisphere failed to explain its data and methodology. The Guardian investigation found that employees of Surgisphere also had questionable credentials.
Studies of the drug were being done with the interest of using it as a potential treatment but the research was halted in May since the Lancet study seemed to indicate that the drug increased deaths in COVID-19 patients.
The Guardian reported Wednesday that dozens of scientific papers co-authored by the chief executive of Surgisphere, Sapan Desai, are now being audited, including a study that appears to contain images that might have been digitally manipulated, according to a scientific integrity expert.
Hydroxychloroquine is primarily an anti-malarial drug used to treat malaria caused by mosquito bites, as well as auto-immune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. It belongs to a class of medications known as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
Increased attention to the drug reemerged when President Trump pointed to media reports on its success in treating the coronavirus and later announced that he had been taking the drug, along with Zithromax and zinc, for a few weeks after members of the White House staff contracted the virus.