New Delhi: Amid a global debate on whether the anti-malarial drug will prove effective in treating Covid-19, the Indian Council of Medical Research has recommended the use of anti-malarial drug Hydroxychloroquine “under exceptional circumstances” as a line of treatment against high-risk coronavirus patients.
The recommendation comes after anti-HIV drugs were used as a treatment on patients admitted for Covid-19 in Jaipur, as well as in a few cases abroad.
A recent French study had shown hydroxychloroquine may be beneficial if taken with an antibiotic mechanism for fighting a coronavirus infection. However, the scientific community has urged caution as research is currently limited as clinical trials of much larger scales need to be conducted to conclusively determine the effectiveness of a drug.
The use of the drug in India, apart from high-risk patients, has largely been recommended for asymptomatic healthcare workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 and asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases, an advisory said.
More importantly, it said that this line of treatment should not lead to a false sense of security and all other precautions such as washing of hands, use of protective gear and maintaining 1m distance should be followed as usual.
ICMR’s Director-General Dr.Balram Bhargava issued a note on the recommendation on Sunday. The note is attached with an advisory on how and when the drug is to be used and on which category of patients. It also provides for a brief explanation on why this drug is being recommended.
The advisory added that the drug should be given only on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner.
“The protocol recommended by the national task force has been approved by the Drug Controller General of India for restricted use in emergency situations,” the advisory added.
The ICMR note said that the drug is found to be effective against coronavirus in laboratory studies and in-vivo studies, referring to studies that are carried out on living organisms.
“Its use in prophylaxis is derived from available evidence of benefit as treatment and supported by pre-clinical data. The recommendation is based on risk-benefit consideration under exceptional circumstances that call for protection of high-risk individuals,” the ICMR note said.
The recommendation made says that the dosage should be 400mg twice a day followed by a weekly dose of 400mg for next 7 weeks with meals. It is not recommended for children under 15 years.