Use of Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine During the COVID-19 Pandemic: What Every Clinician Should Know
In the desperate search to find effective treatments for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), 2 generic drugs, used largely by rheumatologists and dermatologists to treat immune-mediated diseases, have entered the spotlight. The antimalarials hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and chloroquine (CQ) have demonstrated antiviral activity against severe acute respiratory syndrome–coronavirus 2 (SARS–CoV-2) in vitro and in small, poorly controlled or uncontrolled clinical studies (1–3). Normally, such research would be deemed hypothesis-generating at best. A tweet by President Trump on 21 March 2020 claiming that the combination of HCQ and azithromycin “ha[s] a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine” accelerated a worldwide run on the drugs, with pharmacies reporting shortages within 24 hours. Here, we try to provide guidance regarding clinical decision making both for patients with COVID-19 and those with immune-mediated conditions, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and strategies to mitigate further harm to these patients.