The French government has officially allowed the prescription of hydroxychloroquine (Plakvenil) for coronavirus infection. This is stated in the decree published on March 26.
“Hydroxychloroquine and the lopinavir/ritonavir combination may be prescribed, dispensed, and taken under the responsibility of a doctor” under COVID-19, the decree States. Patients can take these medications in hospitals or as prescribed by a doctor at home.
Plakvenil and other drugs based on hydroxychloroquine pharmacies can only issue a prescription. To avoid a shortage in France, the export of medicines containing the combination of the antiretroviral lopinavir/ritonavir and hydroxychloroquine is prohibited.
Hydroxychloroquine is an old antimalarial drug that is also prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and skin diseases caused by sunlight. Plakvenil is produced by the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi. Lopinavir and ritonavir are used to treat HIV.
To date, there are no drugs with proven efficacy for the treatment of COVID-19.
The comparative effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine was shown by experience in Chinese hospitals and a small study in France. In the treatment of COVID-19 for the use of “Plakvenil” agitates a well-known French infectious diseases doctor, head of the Mediterranean Institute of infectious diseases in Marseille Didier Rault. Some doctors in France began prescribing Plakvenil to patients with COVID-19 even before the government decree appeared.
Clinical studies of chloroquine, an antimalarial agent, conducted in a hospital in Marseille, have shown the effectiveness of its use in the treatment of coronavirus infection. As stated on Tuesday, March 17, the official representative of the French government, Sibet Ndiaye, the results are “promising” and the research will be “expanded”. At the same time, she called for caution, since there is “no scientific evidence” of the effectiveness of chloroquine.
Yesterday, on Monday, a well-known French infectious diseases doctor, head of the Mediterranean Institute of infectious diseases in Marseille, Didier Rault, said that 24 patients infected with coronavirus agreed to take Plaquenil (this is one of the commercial names under which chloroquine is produced). Six days after starting the drug, only a quarter of them remained infected. At the same time, 90% of those who did not take the drug are still carriers of the virus, the Professor said.
Chloroquine has been used to treat malaria for more than 70 years. In addition, as Didier Rault notes, this is an inexpensive drug. Earlier, in February, a French scientist already referred to the positive results of using the drug in ten Chinese hospitals.
According to a Chinese study, the antimalarial drug has shown comparative effectiveness for containing the development of pneumonia, improving lung health and reducing the duration of the disease.