Europe – COVID-19: reminder of the risks of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine

EMA is reminding healthcare professionals to closely monitor patients with COVID-19 who are receiving chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine, given the serious side effects that can result from treatment with these medicines.

Both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which are authorised for malaria and certain autoimmune diseases, have been used to treat patients with COVID-19 but their beneficial effects in this patient population are not established.

Several observational studies in COVID-19 have reported that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are associated with an increased risk of heart problems, a well-known side effect of such treatments, including cardiac arrhythmias and cardiac arrest.

When prescribing these medicines, healthcare professionals should take into account pre-existing heart conditions, uncorrected potassium or magnesium imbalance, and concomitant use with medicines that prolong the QT interval as these factors may make patients more prone to heart rhythm disorders…