Abbottabad hospital to conduct drug trials on Covid-19 patients

Updated April 10, 2020

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The disease has been killing people at alarming speed and 23 trials are currently underway and some encouraging results from Wuhan, China have been recorded. — AFP/File
The disease has been killing people at alarming speed and 23 trials are currently underway and some encouraging results from Wuhan, China have been recorded. — AFP/File

PESHAWAR: The US National Institute of Health has approved a proposal of medical teaching institution Ayub Medical College and Ayub Teaching Hospital Abbottabad to conduct trial on Covid-19 patients to find out treatment for the pandemic, which has no cure so far.

The trial entitled “effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in Covid-19 patients” was approved by the US National Library of Medicine of National Institute of Health (NIH), last month to try different set of medicines for the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

Prof Umar Farooq, dean and chief executive officer of Ayub Medical College (AMC) and Ayub Teaching Hospital (ATH) Abbottabad, who will lead the trial, said that they had begun work and were hopeful of success.

“There is no timeline about completion of trial as it depends on the number of patients we receive. Approval of our proposal is indication of the ability of our team and its success would benefit the entire world,” he said.

Hydroxychloroquine trial has been approved by US National Institute of Health

Prof Umar said that the trial was meant to find the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine alone and adjuvant with azithromycin in mild to severe Covid-19 pneumonia patients admitted to their hospital.

The disease has been killing people at alarming speed and 23 trials are currently underway and some encouraging results from Wuhan, China have been recorded.

The drugs being tried are approved for malaria treatment by Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US, yet their effectiveness in treatment of Covid-19 pneumonia is a question mark owing to which trials are underway in many countries, including the USA, India and China where the pandemic first occurred.

Prof Umar, who is PhD in public health, said that the disease was new and therefore researches were in progress to closely monitor the Covid-19 patients and their treatment and find out effectiveness of the drug.

Soon after the onset of the outbreak of pandemic in China, there has been worldwide demand for treatment of the Covid-19, which has so far killed more than 50,000 people. “It has no treatment as of now but we are sure that our trial will succeed and Pakistan will become a country to be remembered in the history of medicine,” he said.

Prof Umar said that their proposal was approved last month and they began the trial a week ago. “So far, three of our patients have recovered, details about them couldn’t be made public at this point because of the confidentiality of the patients,” he added.

He said that they were distributing patients in groups and they were given three different regimes of drugs to find accurate treatment of Covid-19. Three groups of 25 patients each are getting different medication and the result will be shared with the NIH, the US on completion of the trial on total 75 patients.

According to him, one group of patients will be given a combination of two drugs including Hydroxy-chloroquine and Azithromycin while the second group will receive only Hydroxychloroquine and the third will undergo traditional method of treatment.

“We are taking consent of each and every patient included in the trial and informing them about the research,” said Prof Umar. He said that all information of patients along with their signatures would be sent to the NIH on completion of the trial.

He said that patients for the trial were being selected on the basis of intensity of their diseases and ages. “We include only Covid-19 patients below 50 years. Those with heart, kidney and other serious ailments aren’t allowed to be included in the trial,” he added.

Prof Umar said that a total of 15 doctors working in different specialties and faculties at AMC and ATH were taking part in the process to win honour for the country.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2020