10:28 AM

Taking Hydroxychloroquine to Prevent COVID-19 Is Dangerous—Here’s What You Can Do Instead

TheHealthy reports the Food & Drug Administration revoked the emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine sulfate and chloroquine (drugs commonly used to treat patients with rheumatic conditions) for the treatment of COVID-19, as emerging data has demonstrated substantial risks (e.g., fatal heart rhythm abnormalities).

Mary K. Crow, MD, chief of the Division of Rheumatology at HSS, who has been prescribing hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to her patients with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for quite some time, noted there is no risk of withdrawal for people with COIVD-19 who stop taking hydroxychloroquine under a physician’s guidance. “Stopping it should be no problem at all,” said Dr. Crow. “It probably has not been helping, and we hope it hasn’t been hurting that much.”

“Hydroxychloroquine doses used to treat COVID-19 were much higher than those typically used for lupus,” noted Dr. Crow. “The heart risks seen in COVID-19 are rarely reported with lupus and may depend on the amount of the drug that’s taken," she said. 

Dr. Crow also discussed the treatment pipeline for the virus, explaining severe COVID-19 can kickstart a cytokine storm, a severe immune system reaction that occurs when the body release a host of inflammatory proteins, called cytokines, where they cause damage. “Many medications, some of which are used to treat RA and related autoimmune diseases, target cytokines implicated in this storm and could be protective if research pans out,” she explained.

This article originally appeared at TheHealthy.com.