FDA Warns Against Taking Hydroxychloroquine Outside Hospital Settings

The FDA said it's "aware of reports of serious heart rhythm problems in patients with COVID-19" treated with hydroxychloroquine.
Hydroxychloroquine bottle
Posted at 4:59 PM, Apr 24, 2020

The FDA is issuing more warnings about hydroxychloroquine, saying people shouldn't take it for COVID-19 unless it's part of a clinical trial or under "close supervision" from a doctor. The FDA issued the warning on its site on Friday.

It said it's "aware of reports of serious heart rhythm problems in patients with COVID-19 treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, often in combination with azithromycin," the antibiotic also known as Z-pak. The FDA also said it's investigating the risks associated with these medicines for COVID-19 and that patients with other health issues, like heart and kidney disease, have a higher risk of heart problems when taking these medicines. 

Hydroxychloroquine is used to treat malaria and certain autoimmune diseases. President Donald Trump has repeatedly touted the drug as a possible treatment for the coronavirus. The FDA also issued an emergency use authorization in late March to let health care providers use hydroxychloroquine on certain hospitalized patients with COVID-19. But, so far, there's no evidence the drug is effective for treating or preventing COVID-19. In fact, a recent study from the National Institutes of Health revealed patients who were given the drug died more often than those who were not. Clinical trials are still underway. 

Earlier this month, the CDC removed its guidance for using hydroxychloroquine on its website and removed dosage recommendations.