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MHRA suspends COVID-19 hydroxychloroquine trials

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is suspending recruitment of patients in clinical trials involving hydroxychloroquine.

The move follows data from the RECOVERY trial showing no beneficial effect of the drug in patients hospitalised with COVID-19, as well as a New England Journal of Medicine publication that concluded it did not prevent illness compatible with COVID-19 or confirmed infection.

On the advice of the Commission on Human Medicines, no new participants will be recruited to hydroxychloroquine trials until further data which justifies their continuation are available, and additional safety measures have been implemented.

Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are licensed in the UK to treat different health conditions such as malaria, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, amoebic hepatitis and abscess and certain dermatological conditions.

“It is important to note that patients taking hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat other health conditions can continue to do so, as advised by their healthcare professional, as the balance of benefits and risks remains favourable in the licensed uses,” noted Dr June Raine, the MHRA’s chief executive.