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New Orleans area hospitals use hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19

Dr. Clement said local results have been variable, but they have been promising elsewhere.


Some WWLTV viewers have heard that some treatments in other countries may be helping people with COVID-19. 

WWLTV's medical reporter Meg Farris wanted to see if those treatments were available to hospital patients in the New Orleans area.

After President Trump’s announcement Thursday about promising treatments for COVID-19 we wanted to see what that means to us in Southeast Louisiana.

"Clinical trials are already underway for many new therapies and we're working on scaling these to allow many more Americans to access different drugs that have shown really good promise," President Donald Trump said.

LSU Health Science Center infection disease expert Dr. Meredith Clement said she's used hydroxychloroquine to treat patients.

"We have been using hydroxychloroquine in patients with suspected and some with confirmed COVID-19 infection who have moderate and severe and even critical disease," the doctor said.

Dr. Clement said local results have been variable, but they have been promising elsewhere.

"I do know that China is reporting that in 100 patients with it all patients did extremely well," Clement said.

She and other local doctors have also been looking at very early, small, unpublished studies overseas combining hydroxychloroquine used for treating lupus and rheumatoid arthritis and the antibiotic azithromycin.

"They did show that the viral loads came down," Clement said.

Dr. Clement said local hospitals were also using an antiviral drug that treats the Ebola virus here locally called remdesivir, but all of these medications — along with chloroquine used for decades to treat malaria — need more studies, she warned.

"These drugs are investigational. We are in the early days and we have only preliminary data to work with," Clement said.

Clement also said she was concerned that a run on these drugs would create a shortage for people with lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

Even though there have been decades of experience with these drugs and they are generally safe, there are concerns for serious side effects and overdose fatalities. 

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