Use of hydroxychloroquine tied to cardiovascular toxicities, says French-Lebanese doctor

Dr. Joe Salem
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Updated 02 June 2020

Use of hydroxychloroquine tied to cardiovascular toxicities, says French-Lebanese doctor

  • Dr. Joe Salem is on the staff of the renowned French public hospital, La Pitie Salpetriere

PARIS: Scientists and pharmacologists have for weeks been engaged in an international argument about the use of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), but a French-Lebanese doctor in Paris has warned against its uncontrolled use, due to potentially life-threatening cardiovascular toxicities.

The eminent French professor and microbiologist, Didier Raoult, who is based at Aix-Marseille University in the south of France, has promoted the drug’s use to treat COVID-19, and it has also been praised by US President Donald Trump.

Controversy surrounding the drug intensified, however, when The Lancet, a British peer-reviewed medical journal, published a study saying that the drug’s use might pose the risk of abnormal cardio-rhythms or even death.

Raoult described The Lancet study as “messy” but the World Health Organization (WHO) has also cautioned against physicians and medical associations recommending or administering it to patients with COVID-19.

The French Ministry of Health, meanwhile, has banned the use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus following publication and analysis of The Lancet study.

That caution has been echoed elsewhere. Arab News contacted Dr. Joe Salem, a French-born cardiologist and pharmacologist of Lebanese origin, who is on the staff of the renowned French public hospital, La Pitie Salpetriere. He, along with a group of scientific researchers, has also found that the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 is ultimately dangerous, and possibly fatal, supporting the findings published in The Lancet.

Dr. Salem explained that he had used a different approach in his research from that of the British scientists, but that he reached the same conclusion. He said that the medication may have a serious impact on the cardiovascular system, and could be rarely fatal, based on a wide analysis of the WHO’s Pharmacovigilance Global Database, which includes more than 21 million adverse event case reports across all medication classes from more than 130 countries between Nov. 14, 1967 and March 1, 2020.

Dr. Salem said that investigations began in February, when hydroxychloroquine was first suggested and used as a treatment for COVID-19. Its use occurred despite knowledge that it had been linked to cardio-arrhythmia since 1967.

The researchers at La Pitie Salpetriere wanted to look closely at the effects that had been observed since 1967, which showed the cardiac complications that the medication could cause. Their study concluded that reports of acute cardiac arrhythmia had been described and that risk of reporting of such events were more linked to the combination of the two drugs, hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin versus hydroxychloroquine monotherapy.


Philippines probes deadly police shooting of soldiers

Updated 9 sec ago

Philippines probes deadly police shooting of soldiers

  • Plainclothes soldiers were in pursuit of ‘bomb makers and suicide bombers’ from the Abu Sayyaf militant group

MANILA: Philippine authorities are investigating the deaths of four soldiers shot by police in the country’s restive south, with the defense minister vowing Thursday to “get to the bottom” of the incident.
The plainclothes soldiers were in pursuit of “bomb makers and suicide bombers” from the Abu Sayyaf militant group when they were attacked by police in the Muslim-majority province of Sulu on Monday, the army has said.
Army chief Gilbert Gapay has accused the nine officers involved of murdering the men, while Philippine National Police has described the shooting as a “misencounter.”
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the shootings were “a very unfortunate incident,” adding that the dead soldiers “were just doing their jobs.”
“We don’t want this to escalate. We will get to the bottom of this,” he said.
The country’s National Bureau of Investigation was probing the incident, and Lorenzana said the findings should be released soon.
The army has accused the police of firing on the soldiers even after they identified themselves as members of the military.
The officers have been detained while the investigation is under way, said Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano.
President Rodrigo Duterte will visit police and military commanders in the south, his spokesman Harry Roque said, without specifying when.
Abu Sayyaf is based in the south and has engaged in bombings as well as kidnappings of Western tourists and missionaries for ransom since the early 1990s.
They also have ties to Daesh militants seeking to set up a caliphate in Southeast Asia.