Novartis halts hydroxychloroquine trial

June 22, 2020

Novartis is halting its trial of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19, citing a lack of participants.

The trial began in April with the objective of testing the drug in 440 hospitalized patients. Now, the drugmaker says the study is being discontinued due to feasibility of recruitment. Novartis says no safety issues have been reported or efficacy conclusions made.

The decision came just a week after the FDA revoked the Emergency Use approval for hydroxychloroquine, after weeks of mounting evidence that the drug is often not only ineffective at treating the coronavirus but in some cases dangerous for patients.

The drug, also used to treat inflammatory disorders including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, has been caught in a political debate after President Donald Trump promoted it. 

Despite ending the trial, Novartis will continue to provide supply of HCQ for ongoing investigator-initiated trials and upon government requests, as appropriate, where certain conditions are met and the medicine is used in accordance with a nationally endorsed treatment protocol.

Read the press release