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.


Priest who shared stage with Modi tests positive; India sees record number of cases

Updated 13 August 2020

Priest who shared stage with Modi tests positive; India sees record number of cases

  • Nritya Gopal Das, an 82-year-old Hindu priest, was the latest public figure to test positive
  • Television footage showed Modi holding Das’ hands and bowing before him

LUCKNOW, India: India reported another record jump in its surging coronavirus cases on Thursday with nearly 67,000 new infections, among them a religious leader who shared a stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a ceremony to launch construction of a grand temple.
Nritya Gopal Das, an 82-year-old Hindu priest, was the latest public figure to test positive after a string of Modi’s top cabinet colleagues were stricken with COVID-19, including interior minister Amit Shah.
With Thursday’s jump of 66,999 cases India now has nearly 2.4 million infections, according to the Health Ministry, behind only the United States and Brazil. For the last fortnight, it has been reporting 50,000 cases or more each day as it opens up the country after a months-long lockdown. Its COVID-19 death toll stands at 47,033.
Modi and Das were among 170 people who attended the Aug. 5 launch of the temple construction in the northern town of Ayodhya.
Dr. Murli Singh, director of information in Ayodhya, said Das had tested positive and was being moved to a hospital near Delhi. But he added that at the time of the ceremony the priest tested negative and so had not posed an infection risk to Modi.
Television footage showed Modi held Das’ hands and bowed before him. Modi’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Singh said people invited for the launch were all clear of the virus at the time.
“Guidelines were sent to all that only COVID-19 negative people will be allowed in the ceremony,” he said, adding doctors on the ground in Ayodhya had run tests before the event started.
The planned temple at Ayodhya is on a disputed site where Hindu groups have campaigned for decades.
Separately on Wednesday, a government committee said that the country would utilize its large vaccine manufacturing capacity to urgently deliver any potential COVID-19 vaccine to its neighbors and low-income countries.