US doctors group says ‘Trump drug’ helps 91% of COVID-19 patients

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is touting data from studies of 2,333 coronavirus patients showing that hydroxychloroquine improved their survival and recovery odds by 91%.

The group also concluded that the drug decreases the number of days when a patient is contagious, reduces the need for ventilators, and shortens the time to clinical recovery.

 The antimalarial drug has been touted by President Donald Trump as a possible treatment for coronavirus.  A study published Wednesday revealed that online demand for the drug surged by more than 1,000% after the president’s endorsement.

“It’s a very strong, powerful medicine. But it doesn’t kill people. We have some very good results and some very good tests,” Trump said earlier this month.

The administration has deployed roughly 28 million doses of hydroxychloroquine from the federal government’s Strategic National Stockpile.

The AAPS wrote a letter to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey on Monday urging him to rescind his executive order forbidding prophylactic use of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine unless peer-reviewed evidence becomes available.

The group advised him not to wait for ‘controlled trials’ and argued that the use of the drugs should be based on reasonable interpretations of the limited available data.

“We believe that there is clear and convincing evidence of benefit both pre-exposure and post-exposure,” the doctors wrote.

 They referred him to a summary of peer-reviewed evidence, indexed in PubMed, which presented “information from some larger patient groups, alongside reports on single patients.”

The data on 2,333 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine across the globe from China, France, South Korea, Algeria, and the U.S. reveal that 2,137, or 91.6 percent of those who got the drug, fared better after treatment.

  “Many nations, including Turkey and India, are protecting medical workers and contacts of infected persons prophylactically,” the doctors wrote. “According to worldometers.info, deaths per million persons from COVID-19 as of Apr 27 are 167 in the U.S., 33 in Turkey, and 0.6 in India.”

They also discredited a widely publicized study from the Veterans Administration on the use of hydroxychloroquine in U.S. veterans’ hospitals. The research was published in the medRxiv online depository earlier this month.

The nationwide study of 368 patients examined the use of hydroxychloroquine with or without the antibiotic azithromycin for COVID-19. Researchers concluded there were more deaths among those given hydroxychloroquine versus standard care. It was paid for by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the University of Virginia and has not been peer-reviewed.

The AAPS noted that of 63 patients who died, all but 11 were severely ill. The 52 people who died were very sick, meaning their outcomes are ‘not indicative’ of hydroxychloroquine’s effects, the doctors concluded, arguing that the drug would work better if used in patients with less critical illness. 

Last Friday the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning against using hydroxychloroquine outside hospitals due to its potential to cause heart arrhythmias in some patients.

Dr Anthony Fauci, a leading US expert on infectious diseases and member of the White House coronavirus task force has dismissed results from small studies as “anecdotal evidence.”