Asked about the NIH guidance on hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin during Tuesday’s White House coronavirus task force meeting, President Trump said, “we’ll take a look at that. I’m always willing to take a look.”
The guidelines give details on which drugs should be used, but also when and how to provide extra oxygen to patients struggling to breathe, how to safely use equipment on potentially infectious patients and include what’s known about heart, liver and kidney complications in patients.
The panel, made of up experts from the federal government, universities and professional medical societies, notes that no drug has yet been shown to help patients recover from Covid-19. No drugs are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for treatment of Covid-19.
“There are insufficient clinical data to recommend either for or against using chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19,” one of the recommendations reads.
“If chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine is used, clinicians should monitor the patient for adverse effects,” it adds — including an abnormal heart reading.
“There are insufficient clinical data to recommend either for or against using the investigational antiviral drug remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19,” the group adds.
Likewise, the group recommends caution in the use of drugs aimed at tamping down the immune response in patients at risk of cytokine storms, and it warned against using some immune-suppressing drugs such as Janus kinase inhibitors of JAK-inhibitors, often used for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions.
The panel specifically recommends against using the combination of hydroxychloroquine plus the antibiotic azithromycin because of potential toxic side-effects, except as part of a clinical trial. It also recommends against a combination of the HIV drugs lopinavir and ritonavir and other HIV drugs that stop viruses from replicating.
There are recommendations also for helping the burdened lungs of Covid-19 patients with pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome, known as ARDS.
“Currently there is no evidence that ventilator management of patients with ARDS due to Covid-19 should differ from management of patients with viral pneumonia due to influenza or other respiratory viruses,” the panel said.
Despite a few reports about patients who get a treatment that uses a pump to circulate their blood through an artificial exterior lung, called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation or ECMO, there’s not enough evidence to recommend it, the group said
CNN’s Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.