UK ends hydroxychloroquine study trials because there's 'no evidence of benefit,' researchers say

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(CNN) - Researchers in the UK have put an abrupt stop to another COVID-19 trial involving the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine.

The Recovery Trial, a large UK-based trial investigating potential coronavirus treatments, has stopped including hydroxychloroquine in its study due to there being "no evidence of benefit," researchers announced on Friday. Other arms in the trial, which has enrolled more than 11,000 patients from 175 hospitals across the UK, will continue.

"We reviewed the data and concluded that there is no evidence of a beneficial effect of hydroxychloroquine in patients hospitalized with Covid and decided to stop enrolling patients to the hydroxychloroquine arm, with immediate effect, and that has been actioned this morning," Martin Landray, deputy chief investigator of the trial and a professor at the University of Oxford, said during a media briefing on Friday.

As part of the trial, 1,542 COVID-19 patients were randomly selected to receive hydroxychloroquine as a treatment compared with 3,132 patients who received the usual standard care.

About the study: The data showed that after about 28 days, 25.7% of the patients who received hydroxychloroquine had died compared with 23.5% of patients who received usual care alone.

"That is not statistically significant, but as you can see from the numbers, that result shows that there's really no evidence of a benefit," Landray said.

"I think we can say that this data convincingly rule out any meaningful mortality benefit," Landray said. "Our conclusion is that this treatment does not reduce the risk of dying from COVID-19 among hospital patients. That clearly has a significant importance for the way that patients are treated not only in the UK, but all around the world."

Last week, the World Health Organization temporarily paused the hydroxychloroquine arms of its Solidarity Trial due to concerns surrounding the drug's safety and in order to review its own data. Then on Wednesday, after that review, WHO announced that it decided to resume studying hydroxychloroquine as a potential COVID-19 treatment in the trial.

Peter Horby, chief investigator for the Recovery Trial and a professor at the University of Oxford, said on Friday that his colleagues and he have notified WHO about the data found in their trial and the decision to end this arm of the study.

"We've been on the telephone this morning with the World Health Organization," Horby said during Friday's presser. "They will be convening their committee to reconsider their decision based on the events of today."

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