KARACHI: The Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Society of Pakistan (MMIDSP) has strongly advised against the inappropriate use and hoarding of hydroxchloroquine and chloroquine.

“There is a lack of undisputed scientific evidence and risk of adverse events including that of sudden death. Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and chloroquine should only be used as therapeutic or prophylactic agent for Covid-19, under supervision of an expert,” says a press release.

It further says that HCQ and chloroquine are widely used as anti-malarial drugs, which are also used to treat immune system disorders.

“Both these drugs have a new and emerging role in treatment of Covid-19 pneumonia (off-label) and a presumed role in prevention against Covid-19 infection.

“Published reports and consensus statements stemming from the worldwide outbreak of Covid-19 have evaluated the potential usefulness of these drugs as part of treatment regime in critically ill patients. However, no peer-reviewed treatment outcomes are available to-date.

“There is no data on the efficacy of HCQ and chloroquine for prevention of Covid-19 infection in healthcare workers or exposed house-hold contacts. A randomised, placebo-controlled prophylaxis study is set to start in April 2020,” it says.

Both HCQ and chloroquine, it points out, are associated with significant adverse effects, including hepatotoxicity (drug-induced liver damage), bone marrow suppression and risk of sudden death, especially when used with azithromycin and many other medications which can affect heart rhythm. Irreversible visual impairment can follow long-term unsupervised use of these medicines,” it says.

Experts associated with MMIDSP include infectious diseases physicians, clinical microbiologists and nurses who are trained in infection prevention and control.

Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2020

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