US pulls emergency approval for Trump-touted drugs

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WASHINGTON

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pulled Monday its emergency authorization for anti-malarial drugs President Donald Trump claimed should be used to combat the coronavirus pandemic. 

The agency said in a notice announcing the action that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine “are unlikely to be effective in treating COVID-19,” and further cited the drugs’ potentially deleterious health effects.

“Additionally, in light of ongoing serious cardiac adverse events and other serious side effects, the known and potential benefits of CQ and HCQ no longer outweigh the known and potential risks for the authorized use,” the FDA wrote, using abbreviations for the drugs.

In addition to malaria, hydroxychloroquine is approved to treat patients suffering from lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

The FDA had issued the emergency authorization in March, allowing doctors to use the drugs on patients suffering from COVID-19 even though they lacked the agency’s formal approval, which is normally granted following a lengthy review process.

After touting the drugs since March, Trump said last month he had been taking hydroxychloroquine in what he described as an effort to prevent contracting the virus.

The US remains the country hardest-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with over 2.1 million confirmed cases and more than 115,000 deaths, according to data being compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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