Following WHO advice, Philippines resumes hydroxychloroquine trials
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) will continue enrolling coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients in the Philippines for clinical trials of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as the World Health Organization advised the resumption of the study following a pause to give way for a safety review.
Last week, the WHO temporarily suspended the enrollment of COVID-19 patients in the trial over concerns about hydroxychloroquine’s adverse effects on the heart.
However, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, said the agency’s board had reviewed the data concerning heart risks and found “no reasons to modify the trial.”
“They now have decided that it is okay and we will again include hydroxychloroquine. Ili-lift na ‘yung pagstop at itutuloy na natin ang gamutan dito sa hydroxycholoroquine,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online media forum Thursday.
(We will lift the stoppage and we will continue the hydroxycholoroquine trials.)
The hydroxychloroquine study is part of WHO’s Solidarity Trials, which is testing different treatments to determine which are beneficial against the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Vergeire defended the WHO’s shifting directives as she noted that SARS-CoV-2—the coronavirus that causes COVID-19—is a relatively new virus the experts have yet to be familiar with.
“Maaring maraming mga tao na magsabi inconsistent, maraming mga tao magsabi pabalikbalik at pabago-bago pero kami we stand by the position na ito’ yung evolving nature of the disease, and decisions may really be changed quite fast because of these new evidence that we get everyday,” the DOH official said.
(There may be people who will say that we are inconsistent, many people may say that keep on changing protocols but we stand by the position of the evolving nature of the disease and decisions can really be changed quite fast because of these new evidence that we get every day.)
Hydroxychloroquine was approved for the treatment of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis and for preventing and treating malaria.
It was initially included in the clinical trial for COVID-19 treatment after some laboratories reported that it curbed the ability of the virus to enter cells.
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