Hydroxychloroquine remains is in wide use in South Florida, despite studies that show it can cause fatal side effects.
The FDA issued a warning on hydroxychloroquine, saying it could cause “serious and potentially life-threatening heart rhythm problems” in COVID-19 patients. The agency did not say the drug shouldn’t be used for the disease, only that patients should be screened and monitored to reduce the risk.
South Florida hospital systems say they continue to use the drug, but only in hospital settings where patients can be closely watched, as the FDA recommends.
“We want to go cautiously with it and try to make sure we don’t cause harm,” said Dave Lacknauth, director of pharmacy services for Broward Health. “But at the same time, no one really has a good solution for COVID.”
The side effects include heartbeats that are irregular or dangerously fast, sometimes causing death, the FDA said.
“We understand that health care professionals are looking for every possible treatment option for their patients and we want to ensure we’re providing them with the appropriate information needed for them to make the best medical decisions,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn said. “While clinical trials are ongoing to determine the safety and effectiveness of these drugs for COVID-19, there are known side effects of these medications that should be considered."
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