Source: GeekWire


One of the treatments for COVID-19 — a combination of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, an antibiotic — is the subject of a nationwide study with UW Medicine playing a role.

The Phase 2b clinical trial, sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Institutes of Health, will involve 2,000 outpatients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are in the early stages of treatment.

“We know from a number of different other kinds of infections that if antiviral treatment is going to be effective, it tends to be most effective if it’s given very early on,” Ann Collier, a professor at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine, said in a video about the study.

The two drugs have been the subject of other studies — including a complementary 630-patient trial in which UW Medicine is also involved. That smaller trial is designed to focus on the effect of the drugs on viral shedding, while the larger trial will focus on clinical outcomes.

Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin are attractive drug candidates for treating COVID-19 because they’ve already undergone extensive testing for other medical applications, such as treating malaria and autoimmune diseases such as lupus.

There have been a number of publications looking at outcomes in hospitalized patients given this treatment,” Collier said. “But none of them have been [conducted using] the rigorous study design that is usually used to determine whether treatments are effective.”

In addition to UW, 30 other sites across the country associated with the AIDS Clinical Trials Group will be enrolling patients for the randomized, controlled study. Half the participants will receive the drug combination for seven days, while the other half will receive placebos. There’ll be six months of follow-up afterward.

Hydroxychloroquine carries a risk of causing heart problems — but Collier said the drug dosage has been adjusted to address the Food and Drug Administration’s concerns, and patients will be closely checked for signs of toxicity.

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