HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) As the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine gets more attention from doctors and even President Trump, a new study highlights some concerns about the drug that is being used in some to treat COVID-19.
Since last week, the family of Maime Wright, a resident at Ridgewood Terrace Nursing and Rehabilitation in Madisonville, say she’s been using hydroxychloroquine with zinc and z-packs as part of her treatment.
“They say she is sitting up in her bed this morning and she’s fine. She’s still on the medication and doing O.K.,” says her daughter, Paula Shockley. She says Wright isn’t having side effects she knows of, but had questions about the drug after learning of it.
“The only thing that I know I was concerned about, like I said, I had recently heard that it can heart issues. My brother on the other hand said it’s a medicine that’s been around for a long time,” Shockley recalled.
A recent study of 368 patients at veterans hospitals showed 28% of patients given the drug plus usual care died, compared to 11% who just got usual care. About 22% of those who took it with azithromyacin also passed away. But Dr. James Buckmaster of Corpus Christi Clinic, whose patients use hydroxycholoroquine as one part of treatment, says the study didn’t look at those using it with zinc.
“After I looked at the study a little closer and realized they didn’t include any zinc with it. Without that one-two punch, where you take that hydroxychloroquine and that zinc drives it in, it’s not going to work,” he said.
Dr. Buckmaster says he still plans to let patients use the drug with zinc for treatment. He adds the earlier people treat symptoms, the better.
“You look at the risk and the benefit, the risk of the disease far outweighs the risk of any benefit,” says Dr. Buckmaster.
(This story was originally published on April 22, 2020)