ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Washington University School of Medicine has launched a new clinical trial to evaluate using antimalarial drugs as a potential treatment for COVID-19 patients.
The trial is open to patients hospitalized at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Express Scripts is donating different combinations of antimalarial drugs chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin.
“There have been only a few small studies that have evaluated chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in patients with COVID-19 infection, and the results are unclear,” said infectious disease specialist Rachel M. Presti, MD, PhD, an associate professor of medicine who is co-leading the trial.
The FDA recently granted emergency approval for hospitals across the country to use these drugs to treat severe cases of COVID-19, but the treatment strategy remains unproven.
“We need additional trials to understand whether the drugs are effective. We are pleased to be able to offer this clinical trial to patients with COVID-19 in the St. Louis region,” Presti said. “Our goal is to determine if any of these medications, alone or in combination, decrease the severity or duration of respiratory symptoms.”
According to Washington University, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine showed some effectiveness against related coronaviruses, MERS and SARS, in past research.
These drugs should not be taken without doctor supervision.