An Italian observational study contributes to the ongoing debate regarding the use of hydroxychloroquine in the current pandemic. The research, conducted on 3,451 patients treated in 33 hospitals throughout the Italian territory, shows that the use of this drug reduces by 30% the risk of death in hospitalized patients affected by COVID-19.
Published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, the study was coordinated by the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention of the I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed, Pozzilli, in collaboration with Mediterranea Cardiocentro, Naples, and the University of Pisa, with the participation of 33 hospitals forming the CORIST collaboration (COvid-19 RISk and Treatments). Researchers analysed data regarding current and previous diseases, therapies followed before the infection and drugs administered in the hospital specifically for the treatment of COVID-19. All this information was compared with the evolution and the final in-hospital outcome of the infection.
"We observed that patients treated with hydroxychloroquine had a 30% lower in-hospital mortality rate compared to those not receiving this treatment," explains Augusto Di Castelnuovo, epidemiologist at the Neuromed Department of Epidemiology and Prevention, currently at Mediterranea Cardiocentro in Naples. "Our data were subjected to extremely rigorous statistical analysis, taking into account all the variables and possible confounding factors that could come into play. The drug efficacy was evaluated in various subgroups of patients. The positive results of hydroxychloroquine treatment remained unchanged, especially in those patients showing a more evident inflammatory state at the moment of admission to hospital."
"While waiting for a vaccine, identifying effective therapies against COVID-19 is an absolute priority," says Licia Iacoviello, director of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention at Neuromed and professor of public health at the University of Insubria at Varese. "We hope that our research will make an important contribution to the international debate on the role of hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of hospitalized patients for coronavirus. Further observational studies and ongoing clinical tials will of course be needed to better assess the role of this drug and the most appropriate administration methods. However, data from the CORIST collaboration support the use of hydroxychloroquine. At variance with some studies carried out in other Countries, where efficacy of the drug was not observed, it is interesting to note that the doses of hydroxychloroquine adopted in Italy (200 mg, twice a day) are lower than the ones used in that research."
"In past months, the World Health Organization recommended a stop to the use of hydroxychloroquine on the basis of an international observational study, subsequently retracted," comments Giovanni de Gaetano, president of Neuromed. "Now the new data from the CORIST study, resulting from a 'real life' national collaboration, might help health authorities better clarify the role of this drug in the treatment of COVID-19 patients."
CORIST (COvid-19 RISk and Treatments) is a collaboration between 33 Italian clinical centers devoted to collection and study of data relating to COVID-19 patients. It is a study carried out in the "real life" of Italian National Health System, bringing together the different experiences of large and small clinical centers, from Lombardy to Sicily.
Source: Institute for Research, Hospitalization and Health Care (I.R.C.C.S.) Neuromed