Following WHO advice, DOH suspends giving hydroxychloroquine to patients
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) said on Tuesday, May 26, that it is suspending giving hydroxychloroquine to patients following the World Health Organization (WHO) advice.
On Monday, May 25, the WHO announced that it had "temporarily" suspended clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19 – which is being carried out in different countries – as a precautionary measure.
WHO made the decision following the publication of a study in The Lancet that indicated that using the drug may increase the risk of death among COVID-19 patients.
During a virtual briefing on Tuesday, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that she received a letter on Tuesday morning regarding the WHO order.
"Of course, we follow the WHO guidelines on this because it is the WHO solidarity trial. In fact, a proponent sent a letter to my office this morning, saying that we are pulling out and stopping giving this hydroxychloroquine to our patients because of the WHO advice," Vergeire said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Vergeire also said that they are not allowed to release the results of hydroxychloroquine use on local patients because the country is under the clinical trial phase.
"With regard to the results or kung ano man po ang naging resulta nito sa ating pasyente na nasa hospital ay hindi pa po natin pwede ilabas 'yan dahil tayo ay nasa clinical trial phase," Vergeire said.
(With regard to the results of this drug to our patients who are confined in hospitals, we can't release the results because we're still under the clinical trial phase.)
Vergeire assured the public that hospitals will stop giving hydroxychloroquine to patients as recommended by the WHO.
On May 22, the government coronavirus task force cleared the Philippines to join clinical trials of potential vaccines against the COVID-19.
Antimalarial drug Hydroxychloroquine was among the list of experimental drugs being used for clinical trials in the Philippines and other countries, alongside with antiviral Remdesivir, antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV Lopinavir with Ritonavir, and Interferon beta-1a drug used to treat multiple sclerosis.
Hydroxychloroquine is normally used to treat arthritis but pronouncements from public figures including US President Donald Trump – who announced last week that he was taking the drug – prompted other governments to bulk buy the medicine.
Unless a vaccine or cure for COVID-19 is developed and made available to the global population, experts believe a return to normal life would be largely impossible. (READ: The latest in the global race for a coronavirus vaccine)
As of Monday, the Philippines recorded 14,319 cases of coronavirus infections, with 873 deaths and 3,323 recoveries. – Rappler.com