Health Ministry stopped using hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 patients, says no effect

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the ministry has stopped administering malaria medication hydroxychloroquine on Covid-19 patients, seeing that it has no effect on those infected with the pandemic. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the ministry has stopped administering malaria medication hydroxychloroquine on Covid-19 patients, seeing that it has no effect on those infected with the pandemic. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, June 22 — The Health Ministry has stopped administering malaria medication hydroxychloroquine on Covid-19 patients, seeing that it has no effect on those infected with the pandemic.

Director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that the ministry was using it on Covid-19 patients as an off-label medication because it has anti-inflammatory properties but after around 500 cases, data has proven that it was ineffective.

“We used it because it has anti-inflammatory properties for the beginning stages of Covid-19. But when we collect the data, after around 500 cases, we found that there was no positive effect of the medication.

“When there is no effect, we stop using it. At the same time, we were informed that there was a 30 per cent complication rate on using the medication — it can affect the heart and so on, so we had to monitor its usage.

“So, now we have this data and we are sure it has no effect on Covid-19 patients,” said Dr Noor Hisham.

At the early stages of the pandemic, the ministry as well as the World Health Organisation (WHO) were still experimenting on methods to treat the disease.

Hydroxychloroquine was among the medications that was being tested on the novel coronavirus patients. Other medications being tested on Covid-19 patients include drugs used for HIV patients, which is still being studied.

Dr Noor Hisham added that with Malaysia’s successful treatment rate of more than 95 per cent, the nation is now placed in the enviable position of lacking patients to test on the best medication to treat Covid-19.

“Even though we have been identified as one of the WHO centres to study this disease, right now we don’t have enough patients to test these drugs.

“Our recovery rate is more than 95 per cent which is good for the country. I hope we can continue succeeding in treating our cases and avoid any more deaths,” he said.

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