France stops treating COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine

The French government stops the use of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine for treating COVID-19 patients after a new study suggested it doesn’t work and poses health risks.

A decree ending its use for the coronavirus in France is published Wednesday.

The World Health Organization did the same after a study of 100,000 patients worldwide published last week found that the drug was ineffective against the virus and tied to a greater risk of death and heart rhythm problems.

The drug has been popular and politically sensitive in France, where it was included in a trial of multiple treatments and used on hospitalized patients.

US President Donald Trump started pushing hydroxychloroquine based on early research by prominent French virologist Dr. Didier Raoult suggesting it reduced virus symptoms.

Raoult shrugged off guidance from France’s High Council for Public Health to stop use of the drug, suggesting it’s not important now that the number of infected people is no longer at crisis levels. The council’s recommendation is “one opinion like any other, I don’t care much,” he told France’s LCI television Tuesday night.