Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is launching a clinical trial for patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. The trial will investigate the effectiveness of different combinations of the antimalarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin in treating ill patients infected with the novel coronavirus.
Express Scripts, a Cigna company, has donated these medications to the School of Medicine in an effort to accelerate research for a COVID-19 treatment.
The Food and Drug Administration recently gave emergency approval for hospitals across the country to use the two antimalarial drugs to treat severe cases of COVID-19. However, this treatment strategy remains unproven.
"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. "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. We're grateful to Cigna and Express Scripts for the generous donation of these drugs. Our goal is to determine if any of these medications, alone or in combination, decrease the severity or duration of respiratory symptoms."
Respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 include dry cough and shortness of breath. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people should seek medical attention if symptoms progress to difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion or inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face. This trial is only for patients who are ill enough to be admitted to the hospital. The researchers plan to enroll 500 patients over the course of the study.
To accelerate research for a COVID-19 treatment, we are supporting one of the top medical schools in the country in their efforts to quickly implement a clinical trial. This trial will help to establish whether these drugs are effective and, if so, to determine the optimal doses to help minimize the symptoms of COVID-19." Steve Miller, MD, chief clinical officer, Cigna
Patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 who choose to enroll in the trial will be randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups: One group will receive chloroquine alone; a second group will receive hydroxychloroquine alone; a third group will receive chloroquine and azithromycin; and a fourth group will receive hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. Related Stories
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