By John Isaac
THE Health Ministry (MOH) has stopped using anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 patients after it was found to be ineffective, said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
He said the drug had been used since the early stage of Covid-19 treatment under the off-label category, which means there were no scientific studies to show it could be used to treat patients of the infectious disease.
“(But) we used it because of its anti-inflammatory properties. In the initial stage we thought it could have an anti-inflammatory effect.
“But after gathering the data, more than 500 cases did not have positive effects and statistics did not show its effectiveness. When it’s not effective, we stopped using it,” he told a news conference on Covid-19 in Putrajaya.
He said subsequent studies showed that 30 per cent of patients who used hydroxychloroquine had suffered side-effects, including on the heart and eyes.
He said nine Covid-19 patients were being treated with the antiviral drug Remdesivir.
Meanwhile, he said MOH would be conducting studies soon to gauge the antibody response of Covid-19 patients.
He said there were reports which said the antibodies remained for only three to four months.
“We need to monitor the patients to see if they still have the antibodies or not. We have follow-up treatment to see and identify because most of our cases are in categories 1 and 2, that is almost 85 per cent.
“We need to monitor cases in categories 4 and 5; if they suffer damage, for example in the lungs, it can be detected before their discharge,” he said. – Bernama