FACT-CHECK: FDA Did Not Approve Hydroxychloroquine, Others for COVID-19 Treatment

VERDICT: False

CLAIM

A trending WhatsApp message claims that Hydroxychloroquine, Azithromycin and Zinc Sulphate can be used in the treatment of Coronavirus (COVID-19).  According to the message, a combination of the trio with a stipulated dose is the regimen approved by the US Food and Drug Administration agency for treatment of the viral disease.

Part of the message said: ‘’both drugs officially approved yesterday for use by the USA Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’’

FACT

The message is sequel to a video shared by a United States-based medical doctor, Stella Immanuel, on various social media platform.

Stella in her video claimed to have discovered the cure to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and listed the cure as a combination of Hydroxychloroquine, Azithromycin and Zinc Sulphate

In the video, Stella, flanked by some other people suspected to be her associates, said she has treated over  350 COVID-19 patients including those with diabetes, high blood pressure (HBP), asthma and the elderly with the combination.

“The oldest among the patients is 92 and the result has been the same,” Stella said.

She added: “I put them on Hydroxychloroquine, Zinc and Zithromax and they are all well.”

Contrary to the claim in the viral WhatsApp broadcast that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of the two drugs for the treatment of the novel coronavirus, the FDA had earlier revoked the emergency use authorisation it issued on the drugs in March 2020.

The FDA said it was concerned about the safety of the drugs due to mounting data that show it is ineffective in treating patients with the virus.

“In light of ongoing serious cardiac adverse events and other potentially serious side effects, the known and potential benefits of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine no longer outweigh the known and potential risks for the authorised use,” the FDA had stated.

Also, on July 15, 2020, the FDA released another statement explaining its decision.

The statement read in parts: ‘’Based on ongoing analysis and emerging scientific data, FDA has revoked the emergency use authorization (EUA) to use hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat COVID-19 in certain hospitalized patients when a clinical trial is unavailable or participation is not feasible.”

It said the decision was taken based on recent results from a large, randomized clinical trial in hospitalized patients that found these medicines showed no benefit for decreasing the likelihood of death or speeding recovery.

“This outcome was consistent with other new data, including those showing the suggested dosing for these medicines is unlikely to kill or inhibit the virus that causes COVID-19,” FDA added in the statement.

Also, the Nigerian Government had announced that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are undergoing clinical trials. On March 21, 2020, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Emmanuel Ehanire, declared that clinical trial on the anti-malaria drugs by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is still ongoing.

He said, “It is not a one day job. Clinical trials take time. We are still testing the drugs on patients and collating results. I cannot tell you anything about the results now than that the tests are still ongoing.”

CONCLUSION

The claim that Hydroxychloroquine, Zinc and Zithromax combination is the cure for COVID-19 is misleading.

There is no approval on the use of the drug or any combination of drugs from the American FDA for the treatment of COVID-19.

CDD urges members of the public to disregard the picture and stop sharing it.

You can also forward suspicious messages for verification at +2349062910568 or contact us on twitter @CDDWestAfrica @CDDWestAfrica_H

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