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Hydroxychloroquine vs. Azithromycin for Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19 (HAHPS): Results of a Randomized, Active Comparator Trial

Brown et al., Annals of the American Thoracic Society, doi:10.1513/AnnalsATS.202008-940OC
Nov 2020  
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HCQ for COVID-19
1st treatment shown to reduce risk in March 2020
*, now known with p < 0.00000000001 from 422 studies, recognized in 42 countries.
No treatment is 100% effective. Protocols combine complementary and synergistic treatments. * >10% efficacy in meta analysis with ≥3 clinical studies.
4,000+ studies for 60+ treatments.
Small early terminated very late stage (86% on oxygen, 44% enrolled in the ICU) RCT comparing HCQ vs. AZ, not finding a significant difference between the two treatments. There is no comparison with a control group. HCQ patients not in the ICU at enrollment (slightly earlier treatment) did better, OR 0.95 vs. 1.13.
HCQ dosage is relatively low:
Dose in first 24 hours - 1g (compare to Boulware et al. 2g)
Dose in 5 days - 2.4g (compare to Boulware et al. 3.8g)
Brown et al., 9 Nov 2020, peer-reviewed, 17 authors.
This PaperHCQAll
Hydroxychloroquine versus Azithromycin for Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19. Results of a Randomized, Active Comparator Trial
M.D Samuel M Brown, Ithan Peltan, Naresh Kumar, Lindsay Leither, Brandon J Webb, Nathan Starr, Colin K Grissom, Whitney R Buckel, Rajendu Srivastava, Allison M Butler, Danielle Groat, Benjamin Haaland, Jian Ying, Estelle Harris, Stacy Johnson, Robert Paine III, Tom Greene, Rilee Smith, Brent Armbruster, Katie Brown, Valerie Aston, Mardee Merrill, Amanda Nelson, Diana Grant, Bri Crook, Heather Maestas, Jacki Anderson, Prathyusha Kodakandla, Lisa Weaver, Jorden Greer, Macy Barrios
Annals of the American Thoracic Society, doi:10.1513/annalsats.202008-940oc
Rationale: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic struck an immunologically naive, globally interconnected population. In the face of a new infectious agent causing acute respiratory failure for which there were no known effective therapies, rapid, often pragmatic trials were necessary to evaluate potential treatments, frequently starting with medications that are already marketed for other indications. Early in the pandemic, hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin were two such candidates. Objectives: To assess the relative efficacy of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin among hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Methods: We performed a randomized clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine versus azithromycin among hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Treatment was 5 days of study medication. The primary endpoint was the COVID ordinal outcomes scale at Day 14. Secondary endpoints included hospital-, intensive care unit-, and ventilator-free days at Day 28. The trial was stopped early after the enrollment of 85 patients when a separate clinical trial concluded that a clinically important effect of hydroxychloroquine over placebo was definitively excluded. Comparisons were made a priori using a proportional odds model from a Bayesian perspective. Results: We enrolled 85 patients at 13 hospitals over 11 weeks. Adherence to study medication was high. The estimated odds ratio for less favorable status on the ordinal scale for hydroxychloroquine versus azithromycin from the primary analysis was 1.07, with a 95% credible interval from 0.63 to 1.83 with a posterior probability of 60% that hydroxychloroquine was worse than azithromycin. Secondary outcomes displayed a similar slight preference for azithromycin over hydroxychloroquine. QTc prolongation was rare and did not differ between groups. The 20 safety outcomes were similar between arms, with the possible exception of postrandomization-onset acute kidney injury, which was more common with hydroxychloroquine (15% vs. 0%). Patients in the hydroxychloroquine arm received remdesivir more often than those in the azithromycin arm (19% vs. 2%). There was no apparent association between remdesivir use and acute kidney injury. Conclusions: Although early termination limits the precision of our results, we found no suggestion of substantial efficacy for hydroxychloroquine over azithromycin. Acute kidney injury may be more common with hydroxychloroquine than azithromycin, although this may be due to the play of chance. Differential use of remdesivir may have biased our results in favor of hydroxychloroquine. Our results are consistent with conclusions from other trials that hydroxychloroquine cannot be recommended for inpatients with COVID-19; azithromycin may merit additional investigation. Clinical trial registered with (NCT04329832).
Author Contributions: S.M.B., I.P., B.J.W., R.S., B.H., R.P., and T.G. conceived and designed the study. S.M.B., I.P., N.K., L.L., B.J.W., W.R.B., E.H., and S.J. acquired the data. N.K., N.S., C.K.G., A.M.B., D.G., and J.Y. participated in conception and design, analytical plan, and data analysis. All authors were involved in critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content and approval of the final version to be published.
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Late treatment
is less effective
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