MONDAY, May 18, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Treating hospitalized COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, or both is not associated with improvements in in-hospital mortality, according to a study published online May 11 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Eli S. Rosenberg, Ph.D., from the University at Albany School of Public Health at the State University of New York, and colleagues retrospectively reviewed data from a random sample of all admitted patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 in 25 New York metropolitan hospitals between March 15 and 28, 2020. The analysis included 1,438 hospitalized COVID-19 patients (59.7 percent male; median age, 63 years).

The researchers found that patients receiving hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, or both were more likely than those not receiving either drug to have diabetes, respiratory rate >22/minute, abnormal chest imaging findings, O2 saturation <90 percent, and aspartate aminotransferase >40 U/L. In-hospital mortality was 20.3 percent overall (95 percent confidence interval [CI], 18.2 to 22.4 percent). Compared with patients receiving neither drug, there were no significant differences in mortality for patients receiving hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin (hazard ratio [HR], 1.35; 95 percent CI, 0.76 to 2.40), hydroxychloroquine alone (HR, 1.08; 95 percent CI, 0.63 to 1.85), or azithromycin alone (HR, 0.56; 95 percent CI, 0.26 to 1.21). However, compared with patients receiving neither drug, there was a significantly increased risk for cardiac arrest in patients receiving hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.13; 95 percent CI, 1.12 to 4.05), but not for patients receiving hydroxychloroquine alone (aOR, 1.91; 95 percent CI, 0.96 to 3.81) or azithromycin alone (aOR, 0.64; 95 percent CI, 0.27 to 1.56).

“The findings of the present study should be considered in concert with recent COVID-19 treatment guidelines from the National Institutes of Health and Infectious Diseases Society of America as well as the statement regarding safety concerning use of hydroxychloroquine from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,” the authors write.

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