Published On: Mon, Mar 23rd, 2020

Coronavirus: India recommends anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine for high-risk population

New Delhi: Amid rising coronavirus cases in the country, the national task force for COVID-19 constituted by Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has recommended malaria drug hydroxy-chloroquine as a preventive medication for high-risk population.

India allows use of anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine for high-risk people.

According to the advisory, it should be given to high risk population — asymptomatic healthcare workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 and asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory confirmed cases.

The protocol recommended by the National Task Force has been approved by the Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) for restricted use in emergency situations.

“Hydroxy-chloroquine is found to be effective against coronavirus in laboratory studies and in-vivo studies. Its use in prophylaxis is derived from the available evidence of benefit as treatment and supported by preclinical data,” the advisory said.

The drug is not recommended for prophylaxis in children under 15 years of age.

According to the advisory, the drug has to be given only on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner.

“If anyone becomes symptomatic while on prophylaxis, he/she should immediately contact the health facility, get tested as per national guidelines and follow the standard treatment protocol.

“All asymptomatic contacts of laboratory confirmed cases should remain in home quarantine as per the national guidelines, even if they are on prophylactic therapy,” it said.

Simultaneously, proof of concept and pharmacokinetics studies be taken up expeditiously. Findings from these studies and other new evidence will guide any change in the recommendation,” it said.

The task force also warned that placing the healthcare workers under chemoprophylaxis should not instill a sense of false security in them and asked them to follow all prescribed public health measures such as frequent washing of hands, respiratory etiquettes, keeping a safe distance of minimum one metre and use of personal protective equipments.

PTI

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