On Thursday, the United States Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said the department has stopped all use of hydroxychloroquine to treat patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
He said VA hospitals ratcheted down the use of hydroxychloroquine as new research highlighted possible risks of the drug and other potential treatments becoming available, according to the Associated Press.
“I expect that trend to continue in the future,” Wilkie said. However, he defended the VA’s initial use of the drug to treat coronavirus patients, stating there were few treatment options at the time.
The VA health department has recently switched to remdesivir, an antiviral drug developed by Gilead Sciences, and convalescent plasma therapy from people who have recovered from COVID-19.
More than 13,650 veterans have been infected with COVID019, and 1,200 have died so far, according to the VA.
Some veterans’ groups have demanded the VA to explain the use of hydroxychloroquine after trials showed that the drug offered no benefit to veterans who were treated with it. The death rate among veterans who received hydroxychloroquine and usual care was 28 percent.
Meanwhile, a survey, released last week by Sermo Inc., has found that many physicians across the globe have been using remdesivir to treat coronavirus patients.
Sermo is a private social media network for physicians and a global health care polling company.
The survey was conducted on more than 4,750 physicians from May 11 to 13 in 31 nations. They were asked questions about worldwide remdesivir usage.
Overall, one-quarter of respondents reported using remdesivir, which started increasing in mid-April. In the United States, more doctors reported using remdesivir, with the usage even more among intensive care unit doctors. Doctors in the United States are using the drug more than in the rest of the world.
Although the official remdesivir recommendation is for patients with severe COVID-19, nearly 66 percent of doctors believe the drug is best administered earlier, for patients with moderate symptoms of COVID-19.
About 48 percent of physicians across the world rated remdesivir as moderately effective. In the United States, only 18 percent of doctors rated remdesivir as highly effective.