Philippines to stop using hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus patients

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 26 2020 11:01 AM | Updated as of May 26 2020 11:19 AM

MANILA - The Department of Health on Tuesday said it will follow the advice of the World Health Organization (WHO) to halt the use of off-label drug hydroxychloroquine after a study said that it can increase the chances of death.

The WHO on Monday announced that it was temporarily suspending the use of hydroxychloroquine in its multi-country Solidarity Trial. The drug, originally made to treat malaria, is one of the drug and drug combinations being studied by various countries as treatment for COVID-19.

While it was initially said to be promising, a study published in The Lancet indicated that the drug may put patients at risk of dying. 

“We follow WHO guidelines on this because this is the WHO solidarity Trial,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a briefing with media on Tuesday morning.

“In fact, this morning nagpalabas na po ng sulat ang ating proponent at pinadala sa aking opisina na sinasabi na po nila na we are pulling out and we are stopping from giving this hydroxychloroquine to our patients because of WHO’s advice,” she added.

(In fact, this morning the proponent of our study sent a letter to my office stating that we are pulling out and we are stopping from giving this hydroxychloroquine to our patients because of WHO’s advice.)

Vergeire said they cannot release yet the results of the Philippines' study since it is still in the clinical trial phase. 

The WHO emphasized that the other arms of the solidarity trial will proceed. The other drugs included in the trial are remdesivir, ritonavir-lopinavir, and ritonavir-lopinavir with interferon beta.