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April 9, 2020, 1:16 p.m. EDT

NIH starts trial testing safety, effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine

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By Jaimy Lee

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) said Thursday it started a clinical trial that will test the safety and effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in more than 500 hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine is a decades-old malaria drug that is also approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. It has not been approved to treat infections caused by the novel coronavirus; however, some small studies have pointed to its effectiveness in COVID-19 patients, and it is being used on a compassionate use basis and in clinical trials for some people with COVID-19. The NIH's blinded, placebo-controlled randomized clinical started enrolling participants at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. The patients who are randomized will also get hydroxychloroquine. "Many U.S. hospitals are currently using hydroxychloroquine as first-line therapy for hospitalized patients with COVID-19 despite extremely limited clinical data supporting its effectiveness," Dr. Wesley Self, an emergency medicine physician at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said in a statement.

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