Social media users have been sharing posts which claim that “hydroxychloroquine is now ok” yet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American Medical Association (AMA) told Reuters that their guidance advising against treating COVID-19 with hydroxychloroquine or urging caution reflects their current positions, as of this article’s publication.
Hydroxychloroquine is a medicine that is FDA-approved to treat arthritis and to treat or prevent malaria (here). Former U.S. President Trump said last March that hydroxychloroquine could be a game-changer in the coronavirus pandemic. He also said he was taking it himself, even after the FDA advised that its efficacy and safety were unproven (here).
The FDA revoked the emergency use authorization (EUA) for hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19 on June 15, 2020, after results from several clinical trials failed to show that HCQ could be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19 (here , here).
On July 1, 2020 the FDA published a summary of their review of safety issues with the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat hospitalized patients with COVID-19, seen here . Chanapa Tantibanchachai, Press Officer for the FDA, told Reuters via email on April 9, 2021 that this is the FDA’s most recent update and as such, the FDA has not changed its position on hydroxychloroquine since June 15, 2020.
Hillary Hoffman from the Office of Communications and Government Relations at the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told Reuters via email on April 9, 2021 that the “current recommendations from the COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines panel on hydroxychloroquine” can be seen here and here . These pages state that the NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines panel recommends against the use of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19.
On March 2, 2021, the World Health Organization’s Guideline Development Group (GDG) expert panel made a “strong recommendation” that hydroxychloroquine should not be used to prevent COVID-19 and said the drug has no meaningful effect on patients already infected (here , here).
The social media posts may be referencing comments made by now-deceased conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh in December 2020 (here). Limbaugh claimed that the American Medical Association (AMA) (www.ama-assn.org/about) had admitted that hydroxychloroquine was “okay” by taking back a previous statement against using hydroxychloroquine for treating COVID-19 (here).
In March 2020, the AMA issued a joint position statement with the American Pharmacists Association and American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, visible here , urging caution about prescribing hydroxychloroquine off-label to treat COVID-19 (“off-label” meaning using an approved drug to treat another medical condition that the drug is not approved to treat, as explained by the FDA here).
Following Limbaugh’s claims, AMA tweeted saying that their March 2020 position remained unchanged as seen here . A resolution was proposed in October 2020 that AMA rescind its March statement about HCQ (here), however in the November 2020 meeting it was decided that this resolution would not be adopted (here).
Robert Mills, AMA’s Media Relations Coordinator, told Reuters via email on April 9, 2021 that their March statement, updated in April, is still AMA’s current position: “The position statement has never been rescinded, but it was updated in April 2020 to reflect emerging information at the time.” The updated April statement, which still urges caution, can be seen here .
False. As of April 9, medical institutions in the United States have not changed their guidance against prescribing hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .
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