Charleston, S.C. – WCBD – An anti-malaria drug is now being tested to see the effects it could have on COVID-19 and is being used in the Lowcountry.
Hydroxychloroquine is typically used to treat lupus patients but is now being tested as a potential treatment and prevention of COVID-19, according to Doctor Kent Stock, Staff Infectious Disease Physician at Roper Hospital.
“With the COVID-19 outbreak, this agent was revisited as a potential therapeutic option. There were some studies published in basic science journals that seem to suggest activity against the virus,” said Stock.
While studies have been published Stock says there have been no controlled trials proving the drug can improve COVID-19 symptoms.
“When the outbreak occurred we initially started using it because obviously there were no known options that could potentially help patients.”Doctor Kent Stock, Staff Infectious Disease Physician at Roper Hospital
Stock says more than 50 patients have been admitted to Roper Hospital. Approximately 18 of those patients were treated with hydroxychloroquine.
“It is still an option. It is still included in our treatment algorithm for patients. Many other academic centers continue to include it, for example, Yale University,” said Stock.
Although it is still an option Stock says they are not using the drug as frequently due to the damage it can have on the heart.
“We know that if a patient has a history of heart disease or is on medications that can influence their EKG findings, the combination of the hydroxychloroquine with certain medications can increase your risk for significant cardiac arrhythmias,” said Stock.
This is a drug that should only be taken if prescribed by a physician.