The National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce has upgraded the strength of its recommendation against the use of the widely-debated drug, hydroxychloroquine.
The Taskforce is comprised of 29 peak health professional bodies whose members are caring for people with COVID-19. The strong recommendation is as follows:
Do not use hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19.
This recommendation applies to adults, children and adolescents, pregnant and breastfeeding women, older people living with frailty and those receiving palliative care.
Use of hydroxychloroquine may still be considered in the context of randomised trials with appropriate ethical approval, such as combination therapies that include hydroxychloroquine.
Taskforce Executive Director, Associate Professor Julian Elliott said the evidence indicates that hydroxychloroquine is potentially harmful and no more effective than standard care in treating patients with COVID-19.
“As a national Taskforce we have reviewed all the scientific data around hydroxychloroquine and we can now say, definitively, that hydroxychloroquine should not be used as a treatment for anyone with COVID-19.
“There is now sufficient data for us to make a very clear and strong recommendation. In this instance, that is based on data from randomised controlled trials that enrolled nearly 6000 patients. This is a substantial amount of very high-quality scientific data upon which we’ve based the recommendation.
“The pooled results show the drug does not reduce mortality, or shorten the amount of time a sick person spends in hospital. It also exposes them to side effects including cardiac toxicity.”
The Taskforce also recommends against the use of hydroxychloroquine for post-exposure prophylaxis:
For people exposed to individuals with COVID-19, only administer hydroxychloroquine for post-exposure prophylaxis in the context of randomised trials with appropriate ethical approval.
There are ongoing prevention trials investigating the use of hydroxychloroquine to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, and the Taskforce will continue to review these data as soon as they become available.
Associate Professor Elliott said it was also important to remember that we do have effective treatments for people with COVID-19.
“Just last week, the Taskforce strengthened its recommendation for the use of dexamethasone – an inexpensive, widely available steroid that has been shown to reduce the risk of death by 14% in patients requiring oxygen and 29% in ventilated patients.
“We also know that antiviral drug remdesivir has been shown to reduce the time to recovery for moderate or severe cases of COVID-19.
“Australians should be reassured that our leading expert panels are reviewing new research every week to provide evidence-based guidance to clinicians on the frontline.”
A first of its kind, the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce was formed to provide a clear and consistent voice of cross-disciplinary consensus on the clinical care of people with COVID-19. The Taskforce delivers ‘living’ guidelines that are updated weekly by seven expert panels, an expert advisory group and two working groups comprising Australia’s leading researchers and clinicians.
- JElliott_1 – What is the significance of this updated recommendation?
- JElliott_2 – Can you tell us on what evidence you based this recommendation?
- JElliott_3 – How confident are you in this recommendation?
- JElliott_4 – What’s the difference between using it as a treatment and preventatively?
- JElliott_5 – What’s the Taskforce’s recommendation for Hydroxychloroquine
- JElliott_6 – Are there effective, evidence-based treatments for COVID-19?
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