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Politics Around Hydroxychloroquine Hamper Science

Publicity around the drug hydroxychloroquine spiked this week when President Donald Trump revealed that he’s taking it to prevent COVID-19.

All the attention on the drug in recent months is increasingly spilling into science, and making it harder for some researchers to actually study whether the drug has potential for COVID-19.

Doctors have used hydroxychloroquine for decades to treat auto-immune conditions and to prevent malaria.

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While the Food and Drug Administration has given emergency use authorization for doctors to try the treatment on COVID-19 patients, the agency has also cautioned about its possibly deadly side effects.

On Wednesday, the executive director of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program, Dr. Mike Ryan echoed other leading medical experts, saying at a press briefing that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have "yet to be found effective in the treatment of COVID-19" or for preventing the disease.

Because of potential side effects, Ryan says the WHO advises the drug "be reserved" for use in the context of clinical trials, which are now underway in many places.But for some researchers, running such trials is becoming more difficult because of the controversy around the drug. Missed opportunity Dr. Jon Giles didn’t expect to have any problems drumming up interest in his clinical […]

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