The antimalarial drug touted by Donald Trump as a potential treatment for Covid-19 has been linked to an increased risk of death in coronavirus patients, in the largest ever analysis of the drug.
The US president drew criticism from medical officials this week when he announced that he was taking the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a preventative medicine, asking: “What do you have to lose?”
“All I can tell you is so far I seem to be OK,” Mr Trump said, as he revealed that he had been taking the drug for about a week and a half, with the approval of his White House doctor.
“I get a lot of tremendously positive news on the hydroxy,” Mr Trump added.
Demand for hydroxychloroquine surged in the US after Mr Trump first promoted its use as a coronavirus treatment in early April, with sales of the drug doubling according to an analysis of sales from March of this year and sales in March 2019.
But a study published in the respected medical journal The Lancet on Friday looked at more than 96,000 hospitalised coronavirus patients and found that those who were treated with the drug, or the closely related drug chloroquine, had a higher risk of death when compared to those who had not been given the medicine.
The research, conducted by Harvard Medical School professor Mandeep Mehra and professors from three other institutions, found that patients who were given hydroxychloroquine, had a 34 percent increase in risk of mortality and a 137 percent increased risk of serious heart arrhythmias.