Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

What’s the Good News on Hydroxychloroquine?

Hydroxychloroquine is a darling of the media and of politicians, but what about the evidence? Well, the evidence on the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat humans with COVID-19 (COronaVIrus Disease identified in 2019) is either negative (hydroxychloroquine is worse than homeopathy, acupuncture, naturopathy, prayer, . . . ) or the evidence is neutral (hydroxychloroquine is just as useless as homeopathy, acupuncture, naturopathy, prayer, . . . ).


But what is the good news?


The good news is that all of the research on hydroxychloroquine is of low quality or of very low quality. This is exactly the kind of evidence that frauds use to sell their fly by night panaceas.


The “best” news for the frauds is that one study showing harm from hydroxychloroquine has been retracted by most of the authors, due to problems with the data.[1],[2] The researchers contracted out the data acquisition and analysis to Surgisphere Corporation, a private company that appears to have promised to be able to deliver more than it can deliver.


If the negative paper has been retracted, why am I calling the promoters of hydroxychloroquine the frauds?


I am not referring to any of the researchers as frauds, not even the ones from the company that provided the retracted information. The frauds are the people promoting hydroxychloroquine without any evidence that hydroxychloroquine is safe or effective to treat COVID-19 in our species. These people are recklessly and irresponsibly endangering people for their own apparently political reasons.


We still do not have any valid evidence that hydroxychloroquine is safe to use in any humans to treat COVID-19.


We still do not have any valid evidence that hydroxychloroquine is effective at improving any outcomes for any humans with COVID-19.


Experimentation on humans should be limited to well controlled research studies.


The WHO (World Health Organization) appropriately, and only temporarily, paused research on hydroxychloroquine to re-examine the safety data available. The enrollment of patients in the WHO research has resumed.[3]


For those who claim that this retraction is evidence that science doesn’t work – It is amusing to see you trying to cite evidence to support your rejection of evidence, every time you do it. May you never tire of demonstrating the validity of the Dunning-Kruger effect.


This is like using a stopped clock to tell you the time. The stopped clock does not provide any useful information about the actual time, but it does provide useful information about the person claiming it provides useful information about the time.



This was pre-print – not yet peer reviewed, which was retracted by most of the authors, because of questions raised about the data. It may turn out that the outcomes for patients were better than represented in the paper. It may turn out that the outcomes for patients were the same as than represented in the paper. It may turn out that the outcomes for patients were worse than represented in the paper. We won’t know until the full information is independently analyzed, which might not happen. The failure to provide access for independent analysis was the reason for the retraction.


Late addition (6/08/2020 at 15:08): Dr. Steven Novella has a more detailed description of this at Neurologica, written on 6/08/2020 after I posted this on 6/06/2020:


The Surgisphere Fiasco



Footnotes:


[1] Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with or without a macrolide for treatment of COVID-19: a multinational registry analysis.
Mehra MR, Desai SS, Ruschitzka F, Patel AN.
Lancet. 2020 May 22:S0140-6736(20)31180-6. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31180-6. Online ahead of print.
PMID: 32450107


Free Full Text from PubMed Central.


[2] Retraction—Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with or without a macrolide for treatment of COVID-19: a multinational registry analysis
Mandeep R Mehra, Frank Ruschitzka, Amit N Patel
Published:June 05, 2020
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31324-6


[3] “Solidarity” clinical trial for COVID-19 treatments
WHO (World Health Organization)
Information page.


Update on hydroxychloroquine


Originally posted 27 May 2020, updated 4 June 2020


Having met on 23 May 2020, the Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial decided to implement a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm of the trial, because of concerns raised about the safety of the drug. This decision was taken as a precaution while the safety data were reviewed by the Data Safety and Monitoring Committee of the Solidarity Trial.


On 3 June 2020, WHO’s Director-General announced that on the basis of the available mortality data, the members of the committee have recommended that there are no reasons to modify the trial protocol.


The Executive Group received this recommendation and endorsed the continuation of all arms of the Solidarity Trial, including hydroxychloroquine.


The Data Safety and Monitoring Committee will continue to closely monitor the safety of all therapeutics being tested in the Solidarity Trial.



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