Hospitals in Sweden have stopped administering Hydroxychloroquine to coronavirus patients following reports the drug was causing adverse side effects, the Gothenburg Post reports.
According to the report, hospitals in the Västra Götaland region are no longer offering the antimalarial medication, with side effects reported to include cramps and the loss of peripheral vision.
One of the patients affected was Carl Sydenhag, a 40-year-old Stockholm resident. According to the national paper Expressen, Sydenhag was prescribed two tablets of chloroquine to take daily after he was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 23. But instead of making him feel better, the medication produced severe side effects.
As well as cramps and vision loss, Sydenhag experienced a headache that felt like stepping into “a high voltage plant,” he told the paper.
Magnus Gisslén, a professor and chief physician at Sahlgrenska University Hospital infection clinic, told the Gothenburg Post he and others at the clinic administered the drug “like everyone else.” But as of two weeks ago, Sahlgrenska University Hospital has stopped all use of all drugs containing chloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19.
“There were reports of suspected more serious side effects than we first thought,” he told the Gothenburg Post on April 1, 2020. “We cannot rule out serious side effects, especially from the heart, and it is a hard-dosed drug. In addition, we have no evidence that chloroquine has an effect on COVID-19.”
President Donald Trump has touted the use of hydroxychloroquine in particular, claiming “very very encouraging early results” and announcing on Sunday the federal government had stockpiled 29 million pills of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19.
This is despite the fact that the drugs have achieved mixed results in scientific studies. A paper published last week went even further, disputing Trump’s claims and finding no evidence of antiviral clearence or clinical benefit of using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19.
Speaking on CBS’ Face the Nation, Dr. Anthony Fauci said “the data are really just at best suggestive” when it comes to the benefit of using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19.