The UK has halted a trial of a controversial anti-malarial drug that was initially thought to prevent COVID-19.
The trial was halted after scientists found that there was ‘no evidence of benefit.’
Professor Peter Horby and Professor Martin Landray, chief investigators of the RECOVERY trial, said: “In March this year, RECOVERY was established as a randomised clinical trial to test a range of potential drugs for COVID-19, including hydroxycholoroquine.
“The trial has proceeded at unprecedented speed, enrolling over 11,000 patients from 175 NHS hospitals in the UK. Throughout this time, the independent Data Monitoring Committee has reviewed the emerging data about every two weeks to determine if there is evidence that would be strong enough to affect national and global treatment of COVID-19.
“On Thursday 4 June, in response to a request from the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the independent Data Monitoring Committee conducted a further review of the data. Last night, the Committee recommended the chief investigators review the unblinded data on the hydroxychloroquine arm of the trial.
“We have concluded that there is no beneficial effect of hydroxychloroquine in patients hospitalised with COVID-19.
“We have therefore decided to stop enrolling participants to the hydroxychloroquine arm of the RECOVERY trial with immediate effect.”
The drug was tested on 1,542 patients, and their results were compared with 3,132 patients on usual car.
The results revealed that there was no significant different between the two groups, with ‘no evidence of beneficial effects on hospital stay duration or other outcomes.’
Martin Landray, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, and Deputy Chief Investigator, said: “There has been huge speculation and uncertainty about the role of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, but an absence of reliable information from large randomised trials.
“Today’s preliminary results from the RECOVERY trial are quite clear – hydroxychloroquine does not reduce the risk of death among hospitalised patients with this new disease.
“This result should change medical practice worldwide and demonstrates the importance of large, randomised trials to inform decisions about both the efficacy and the safety of treatments.”
The drugs rose to prominence since Trump said he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive medicine against the virus despite medical warnings about its use.