Confusion and Alarm About A Drug in Use for 60 Years: Hydroxychoroquine

With all the alarming talk about the President taking hydroxychloroquine, I decided to look into the side effects. If my husband or I was exposed to covid-19, would we consider taking it?

I did an internet search and the first site to pop up was drugs.com

When I looked at the list of side effects I was astonished. I had never seen such a long list for a medication. I counted 52 side effects. It was noted that the incidence of these side effects was unknown.

Because this medication has been around for a long time I decided to look in the 2003 Nurses Drug Guide that I have on my book shelf.

This reference listed 20 side effects that occur 1% of the time or more. It listed 2 rare side effects. Hydroxychloroquine was approved for use in the United States in 1955.

Hydroxychloroquine is given as a preventive medicine (prophylaxis) in places where malaria is common. It is also used to treat malaria. It works by inhibiting the replication of the parasite in the body. It is thought, that in the same way, this medication may inhibit the replication of the corona virus in the body. 

A second use for hydroxychloroquine is in the treatment for rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. This treatment is longterm. This drug guide instructs: Learn about adverse effects and their symptoms when taking prolonged therapy.

As a nurse I realize that dosage, timing and duration of use of a medication are important considerations. If hydroxychoroquine is used as a preventive medication after exposure to cover-19 it is important to study dosage for a short term use.

Today (6/2/2020) an article in the Wall Street Journal echoes the questions and concerns that I have about the confusing messages regarding the use of this medication, which has been safely used for over 60 years. The article by Allysia Finley titled “The Lancet’s Politicized Science on Antimalarial Drugs” includes this observation.

In an open letter to the Lancet’s editors and the study’s authors, some 120 doctors, statisticians and epidemiologists write that the headlines about the study “have caused considerable concern to participants and patients enrolled in randomized controlled trials”evaluating the drugs. Thus many researchers have scrutinized the data, and the “scrutiny has raised both methodological and data integrity concerns.”

In light of the great number of vaccines given to children that have not gone through adequate safety studies and the known vaccine injuries, I find the exaggerated concern over hydroxychoroquine to be mind boggling.

Doctors need a good study that looks at dosage of hydroxychloroquine and the correct timing for prescribing it. Is it a good prophylactic?

Photo credit: Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Two Different Viewpoints on Faulty Vaccines

On July 27ththe Wall Street Journal published an article titled China’s Vaccine Scandal. Parents in China have led protests on behalf of their children. I read through the article noting several paragraphs.
     Over the past couple of weeks parents in China have learned that a compulsory public-health program injected an unknown number of children with substandard vaccines. They are understandably furious.  . . .
     Chinese are particularly angry because similar cases have happened in recent years, followed by promises to crack down. In 2010 and 2013 hundreds of children were hospitalized and several died from faulty vaccines. Chinese companies have used official connections to avoid accountability for producing a range of defective products that kill and maim.

Today, July 31st, The New York Times published an article titled Angry Parents Protest in China Over Bad Vaccines for Children. The tone and conclusion of this article was a little different. Here are a few paragraphs:
     The protest followed reports this month that hundreds of thousands of children across China had been injected with faulty vaccines for diptheria, tetanus and whooping cough. . . .
     While the vaccines were not harmful, officials say, they left children at risk of contracting illnesses that they should have been protected against. . . .
     Public officials say that the problems at the two companies [pharmaceuticals] could lead to a broader backlash against vaccines in China, where an aggressive immunization effort in recent decades has helped eliminate polio and drastically reduce the spread of other diseases.

These two articles demonstrate different perspectives on the same situation. Vaccine safety is extremely important issue. I pray that the government in the United States would look carefully at vaccine safety. The pharmaceuticals have been relieved of any liability for harm to children. Who is going to make sure that profit doesn’t become more important than the health of children?