What are the clinical outcomes and side effects in COVID-19 patients treated with off-label hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin?

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Bottom Line:

The clinical benefits of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin combination therapy were minimal and were associated with a significant increase in toxicity.

Reference:

Kelly, M. et al. Clinical outcomes and adverse events in patients hospitalised with COVID ‐19, treated with off‐ label hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (2020). https://doi.org/10.1111/bcp.14482

Date Published:

20 July 2020

Synopsis:

Possible benefits of the hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin combination therapy have been proposed during the early stages of the pandemic. However, the specific benefits and clinical results have not been clearly detailed, especially with possible side effects associated with these medications. In this retrospective study, electronic health records of Irish patients that received the combination therapy were collected between March 20, 2020 to April 3, 2020 and were compared to patients that did not receive the therapy. Those that underwent treatment showed no significant clinical benefits. Moreover, abnormalities associated with the heart, immune system, and liver were observed in the treatment group, along with a significant increase in mortality. Together, this study highlights the need for caution when prescribing certain therapies and emphasizes the dangers associated with the hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin combination therapy.

Summary by: Edwin Wong