With a recent donation of 400,000 hydroxychloroquine tablets, a drug with the potential to be vital in the treatment of COVID-19 patients and healthcare workers, testing of the medication will soon begin in Louisiana. Dean of LSU Health Sciences School of Medicine Dr. Steve Nelson says the drug has been shown in a test tube to kill coronavirus, but there has only been a small number of clinical trials.
“The most popular one that was done was done in France by a distinguished investigator there saying it accelerated the clearance of the virus from the lung and that these patients improved, but it was a small number,” said Nelson.
Nelson says the biggest hurdle has been getting their hands on the drug for testing, but with the donation they expect trials to begin later this week. Nelson adds in terms of defining the drug’s effectiveness, a reasonable number of patients, between 500 and 1,000, need to be studied.
“What I suspect is that between the number of studies that are being done across the country, I think we may get a better idea within a couple of weeks, but again, there is no magic bullet for this virus yet,” said Nelson.
Nelson says the drug is safe and for the vast majority of people it is very well tolerated so there is very little risk, if any, associated with taking this drug.
“This is an approved drug. It’s really for other diseases and it’s been studied for years. I think it has been around since the 1940s,” said Nelson.