It is President Trump’s drug of choice, at least when it comes to Covid-19, but there is little firm evidence around the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine. Clinical studies of the the 65-year old antimalarial have proliferated, however: according to Evaluate Vantage research there are 102 active trials of chloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin in Covid-19. The vast majority have academic sponsors, and the results to emerge so far are hard to interpret, owing to small sample sizes and lack of controls. This could change: yesterday Novartis pledged to start a phase III, double blind, randomised, placebo-controlled 440-patient study testing hydroxychloroquine as a monotherapy and in combination with azithromycin. This will be one of only five industry sponsored studies of the drug; Sanofi has listed three trials. It is remarkable that commercial companies should chose to throw money at an off-patent drug that they have effectively pledged to give away. However, given the hype and hope that is already driving widespread use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, and the risk of serious side effects that can include arrhythmia and death, a more definitive answer about its role will provide much needed clarity.
|Industry-sponsored clinical trials treating Covid with hydroxychloroquine|
|Sponsor/collaborators||Status||Trial design||Phases||Trial ID|
|Novartis||Not known||Hydroxychloroquine v Hydroxychloroquine + azithromycin v placebo||Phase III||Not known|
|Sanofi||Recruiting||Hydroxychloroquine SAR321068 v placebo||Phase I||NCT04333654|
|Sanofi/National Institute of Respiratory Diseases, Mexico||Recruiting||Hydroxychloroquine v placebo||Phase III||NCT04315896|
|Sanofi/National Institute of Respiratory Diseases, Mexico||Recruiting||Hydroxychloroquine v placebo||Phase III||NCT04318015|
|Bukwang Pharmaceutical||Not yet recruiting||Clevudine v hydroxychloroquine||Phase II||NCT04347915|