Home Science Controversial antimalarial drug study withdrawn as authors deny its authenticity

Controversial antimalarial drug study withdrawn as authors deny its authenticity

Three of the report’s authors said they could no longer agree on its authenticity because Surgisphere, a healthcare company behind the figures, would not authorise an nonpartisan audit of its data collection. The results led the World Health Organisation (WHO) to bring testing on the drug to a halt.

However, high-profile authorities, including US President Donald Trump, still vouch for its use.

Surgisphere chief executive Sapan Desai, one of the report’s co-authors, told The Guardian newspaper he would assist an independent review.

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However, he warned that sending the data would “violate client agreements and confidentiality requirements.”

The report was published last month in medical publication The Lancet.

It included data from 96,000 coronavirus patients in 671 hospital across the world.

Controversial antimalarial drug study withdrawn as authors deny its authenticity (Image: Getty)

Almost 15,000 were prescribed hydroxychloroquine – or a associated drug, chloroquine – either on its own or with an antibiotic.

The research found that the medication has no benefits against coronavirus and it also incremented the risk of dying due to irregular heart rhythms.

Mandeep Mehra, a Harvard University professor who led the study, along with Frank Ruschitzka of the University Hospital Zurich and Amit Patel of the University of Utah, said in written that they had attempted to get a third-party to audit the findings, but Surgisphere did not allow that to happen.

“We deeply apologize to you, the editors, and the journal readership for any embarrassment or inconvenience that this may have caused,” the group added.

READ MORE: Flights: Hygiene changes to airlines after COVID-19 – full list

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President Trump came under fire last month after he publicised the use of hydroxychloroquine as a prevention against coronavirus (Image: Getty)

President Trump came under fire last month after he publicised the use of hydroxychloroquine as a prevention against coronavirus.

He announced he was taking the drug during a during a question-and-answer session with reporters at the White House.

“I’m taking hydroxychloroquine,” Trump said. “I’ve been taking it for the last week and a half. A pill every day.”

The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning against the medication’s use for coronavirus.

The vital importance of social distancing (Image: Express)

In an official statement, the FDA wrote: “The FDA is aware of reports of serious heart rhythm problems in patients with COVID-19 treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, often in combination with azithromycin and other QT prolonging medicines.

“We are also aware of increased use of these medicines through outpatient prescriptions.

“Therefore, we would like to remind health care professionals and patients of the known risks associated with both hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.

“We will continue to investigate risks associated with the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for COVID-19 and communicate publicly when we have more information.”

Democratic House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi also voiced her concerns over the president’s touting of the medication.

Democratic House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi also voiced her concerns over the president’s touting of the medication (Image: Getty)

Asked on CNN about Trump’s claims, Ms Pelosi said: “He’s our president. I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and his, shall we say weight group what is morbidly obese, they say.”

Ms Pelosi was referencing Trump’s last full medical checkup in February 2019, when it became known he had passed the official threshold for being considered obese, with a Body Mass Index of 30.4.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Trump’s comments about hydroxychloroquine were “dangerous.”

“Maybe he’s really not taking it because the president lies about things characteristically,” Mr Schumer said on MSNBC.

He added: “I don’t know whether he is taking it or not. I know him saying he is taking it, whether he is or not, is reckless, reckless, reckless.”

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