An international poll involving more than 6,000 doctors released Thursday found that the antimalarial drug Hydroxychloriquine is the most effective treatment for covid19.
A survey conducted by Sermo, a global health care polling company, from 6,227 doctors in 30 countries found that 37% of those who treated COVID-19 patients rated hydroxychloroquine as the “most effective therapy” from a list of 15 choices.
The US Food and Drug Supervisory Agency provides chloroquine and the next generation derivative, hydroxychloroquine, authorizes emergency use to treat corona virus, even though the drug has been used outside the label by several doctors and hospitals for COVID-19 patients.
The survey also found that the most commonly prescribed treatments were analgesics (56%), azithromycin (41%) and hydroxy chloroquine (33%). Azithromycin, known by the brand name Zithromax or Z-Pak, was ranked the second most effective therapy at 32%, followed by analgesics (including acetaminophen), anti-HIV drugs and cough medicines.
Hydroxychloroquine, which is sold under the brand name Plaquenil, is prescribed mainly in the United States for the most severe cases, but not in other countries. “Outside the US, hydroxychloroquine is equally used for patients diagnosed with mild to severe symptoms, whereas in the US, the most commonly used for patients diagnosed with high risk,” the survey report said.
The 30 countries surveyed included those in Europe, Asia, North and South America, and Australia. No incentives were given to participate in the poll, conducted March 25-27, according to Sermo.
Hydroxychloroquine is the most widely used in Spain, where 72% of doctors surveyed said they had prescribed it, followed by Italy by 49%, and the least popular in Japan, where 7% had used it to treat COVID-19. The poll found 23% of US medical professionals prescribed the drug, which has been FDA-approved for malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
The debate about hydroxychloroquine has been raging in the United States since President Trump touted it two weeks ago as a potential “game-changer” in the fight against the deadly pandemic, prompting critics to accuse him of selling unproven solutions, or “snake oil”.
Sermo CEO Peter Kirk called the results of the vote a “treasure trove of global insight for policy makers.” “Doctors must have more voice in how we handle this pandemic and can quickly share information with each other and the world. With media censorship and the medical community in several countries, along with biased and poorly designed studies, solutions for the pandemic will be delayed “he said.
The survey also found that 63% of US doctors believe lockdown must be lifted in six weeks or more, and that the peak of the epidemic is at least 3-4 weeks.
On average, testing for the US corona virus takes 4-5 days, while 10% of cases take more than seven days. In China, 73% of doctors report getting results within 24 hours.
In cases of lack of ventilators, all countries except China say the top criteria are patients with the best chance of recovery (47%), followed by patients with the highest risk of death (21%), and then first responders (15%).
In China, the survey said doctors prioritize patients with the greatest risk of death.