As US president Donald Trump on a wild run openly promoting widespread use of anti-malarial drugs, Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine, to combat COVID-19 without any scientific evidence and against the advice of top researchers at Center for Disease Control (CDC) and National Institute of Health (NIH), Indian government has gone a step further as Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has recommended to use Chloroquine/Hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic measure by all healthcare workers to prevent COVID-19. Although Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine are long known and used for their anti-malarial effects, these drugs are not without potentially serious side-effects on the hepatic, nervous, renal and cardiac systems including prolongation of the QT wave and cardiac arrhythmia. On the face of Trump’s baseless claim for using Chloroquine/Hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients, American Medical Association (AMA) president and other prominent doctors in USA have issued a stark warning that indiscriminate use of these drugs may even be responsible for needless death of patients (see attached).
Going a step further than using Chloroquine or Hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19 patients that has little or no scientific evidence, ICMR has recently recommended that all healthcare workers should be treated with these potentially toxic anti-malaria drugs as a measure to protect against the coronavirus. We are not aware about any published scientific study in support of prophylactic use of Chloroquine/Hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19 even though the potential danger of these drugs including possible death is well-known to medical science for a long time. In order to stop promotion of unscientific and irrational use of toxic drugs in any medical condition, PBT has sent a memorandum to the IMCR director requesting to reconsider and change their advice for wide-scale prophylactic use of Chloroquine/Hydroxychloroquine for all health workers in India (see below).