Hydroxychloroquine: Hype or Hope?
Living in the Coronavirus Era is anything but normal. Could a drug by the name of hydroxychoroquine help get us back to normal, whatever that may be?
Many of us with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are very aware of hydroxychloroquine. It’s use is to treat the autoimmune disease when other drugs fail. So what is it about this medication that would suggest we could use it to treat a virus? I thought you may be interested.
A Look Back
According to an article in Scientific American, drugs that were screened for use in coronavirus relatives MERS and SARS were put at the top of the list to try to treat COVID-19. Chloroquine is one of them.
As with many discoveries, this potential treatment’s start was anecdotal evidence. Anecdotal evidence is collected in a casual or informal manner and relies mostly on a person’s testimony. Scientific evidence basis is on research that is objective and unbiased ensuring results will be valid and accurate. It must stand up to the scrutiny of peer professionals, (peer review), and have professional consensus that the research is valid and the conclusion is accurate.
Medical professionals are all about scientific evidence, but in drastic situations where not trying the treatment results in an outcome that is worse than trying the treatment, there is a case to consider anecdotal evidence. We are living in such situation.
Because of the dire situation we are in, there are a number of scientific studies going on right now to determine if hydroxychoroquine is indeed what the anecdotal study indicates, that it successfully treats the virus. The first results of China studies offer promise, in addition to the French studies.
A successful treatment is a step toward getting back to normal.
What is Hydroxychoroquine?
Hydroxychloroquine is in a class of drugs called antimalarials. It’s use is to prevent and treat malaria in areas where malaria remains sensitive to chloroquine. It is also a treatment for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. The production of hydroxychloroquine dates back to 1946 by adding a hydroxyl group to chloroquine. Hydroxychloroquine is less toxic than chloroquine.
How Does it Work?
The exact mechanism of action is not known, but because it is a weak base, it is thought to change the pH preventing necessary processing of the virus to replicate itself.
What is The Dose?
According to Epocrates:
Investigational use, efficacy unproven
Dose: 400mg orally twice a day on day 1, then 400mg orally daily for 5 days
an Alternative Dose: 400mg orally twice a day on day 1, then 200mg orally twice daily for 4 days
another Alternative Dose: 600mg orally twice a day on day 1, then 400mg orally daily for 4 days
Info: for severely ill hospitalized patients dosing protocols may vary
may use with azithromycin, monitor ECG due to QT prolongation risk; give with food or milk; do not cut/crush/chew tablet
So, we are getting more clarification with every passing day to answer the question if hydroxychloroquine is all hype, or a reason for hope to treat COVID-19. And it seems to be that early treatment yields best results.
In the meantime, continue to wash hands, respect social distancing, take good care of yourself and your loved ones.
XXOO Cathy of Arthritis Wisdom
Photo credit: Michael Longmire at Unsplash