Despite the fact that the drug Hydroxychloroquine has been approved for use for malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, the FDA recently updated their warning regarding use for COVID-19 patients. On April 27, 2020 the FDA published an updated FACT SHEET warning against the use of this controversial drug. The FDA has not approved the use of the drug due to more recent serious adverse events and clinical outcomes related to it’s unauthorized use. Patients and their prescribers may be desperate to find treatment for the deadly COVID virus, but the use of hydroxychloroquine can do more harm than good due to the risk of heart rhythm problems resulting in tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation and in some cases death.
With the new warning, the FDA is also requiring physicians that have prescribed the drug for COVID-19 patients or PUI (Patients Under Investigation) to report any adverse events within 7 working days.
Regardless of the latest warning, treatment of COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine is only appropriate in clinical trials and in patients that are hospitalized. This Emergency Use Authorization does not permit the treatment of adults in the community or long term care settings. Nursing home staff should educate patients and families regarding this important information.