Chief executive officer (CEO) of the Mayo Hospital and Corona Experts Advisory Group (CEAG) co-chairperson, Professor Dr Asad Aslam, has said that 18 patients of the new coronavirus — COVID-19 — were successfully treated with anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and antibiotic azithromycin during the past five days.
According to reports, Dr Aslam on Thursday said that eight patients at Mayo Hospital, four at Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute (PKLI) and five at other hospitals of the province were administered the drugs during the past five days.
“The patients were administered two tablets of hydroxychloroquine in the morning and two in the evening on the first day whereas, on the remaining four days, they were given one tablet in the morning and one in the evening. Simultaneously, they were given one tablet of azithromycin in the morning and one in the evening for five days.”
He, however, urged people to avoid self-medication and said these medicines should only be used upon a doctor’s prescription because they could have serious side-effects, including hepatotoxicity (drug-induced liver damage), bone marrow suppression and risk of sudden death, especially when used with azithromycin and many other medications that can affect heart rhythm.
Meanwhile, the Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Society of Pakistan (MMIDSP) strongly advised against the inappropriate use and hoarding of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.
According to Dawn, they said there was a lack of undisputed scientific evidence and the risk of adverse events. “Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine should only be used as a therapeutic or prophylactic agent for COVID-19, under the supervision of an expert,” read a press release.
It further said that the anti-malaria drugs were also used to treat immune system disorders.
“Both these drugs have a new and emerging role in treatment of COVID-19 pneumonia (off-label) and a presumed role in prevention against the infection.”
Experts associated with MMIDSP include infectious diseases physicians, clinical microbiologists and nurses who are trained in infection prevention and control.