U.S. halts test of Trump-touted hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 patients

Novartis halts hydroxychloroquine trial against coronavirus

Novartis stops HCQ trial against COVID-19 citing participant shortfall

Several studies of hydroxychloroquine have recently been halted after scientists concluded it was "useless" against coronavirus.

Novartis informed that it is stopping its trial of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) against COVID-19 due to shortage of participants.

Basel-based Novartis began the clinical trial in April. But the project only managed to recruit a handful.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration revoked its emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 on Monday.

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Hydroxychloroquine, also used to treat inflammatory disorders including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, has been caught in a political debate as US President Donald Trump promoted it, even though there was no scientific evidence that it helps against the new coronavirus.

"In various studies, the drug had demonstrated antiviral activity, an ability to modify the activity of the immune system, and it has an established safety profile at appropriate doses, leading to the hypothesis that it may have also been useful in the treatment of Covid-19", the NIH said in its statement.

Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Novartis has made a decision to halt a clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, citing problems in recruiting enough patients for the study of the controversial drug.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization followed suit, ending its trial of the drug as well.

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Novartis' trial coincided with increasing use of Gilead Science's drug remdesivir, which has been shown in trials to speed recovery from COVID-19.

French drugmaker Sanofi, which previously suspended recruitment of patients for two HCQ trials, told Reuters it would make a decision in "coming days" over whether it would resume its own studies.

Novartis had donated up to 130 million doses of hydroxychloroquine, including millions in the USA, and its CEO, Vas Narasimhan had pegged it as the company's biggest hope against the new coronavirus about two months ago.

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