The results are in. Hydroxychloroquine doesn’t cure COVID-19.

Based on early studies, doctors once hoped that hydroxychloroquine would help in the fight against COVID-19. Unfortunately, we now have excellent data from three randomized trials (the gold standard in medical research) showing that hydroxychloroquine does not help—and that it might even be harmful—when taken to prevent or treat this disease.

A multi-site, randomized trial (the RECOVERY trial) released its results on July 15th. The RECOVERY trial presented high-quality evidence from more than 4,000 participants, and it found that hydroxychloroquine doesn’t help people with severe cases of COVID. In fact, patients who received hydroxychloroquine tended to need more time in the hospital, and they were also more likely to need a ventilator and to die.

Another randomized trial in the U.S. and Canada showed that hydroxychloroquine didn’t protect people who were exposed to a person with COVID (e.g., at home or at work). The paper was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on June 3, 2020.

A third persuasive, randomized trial was based in Brazil. That study included patients with mild or moderate COVID in 55 hospitals. Researchers found that hydroxychloroquine offered no help to those patients, and the paper was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on July 23, 2020.

As of June 15th, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not allow doctors to prescribe hydroxychloroquine based on the emerging scientific evidence. They even issued a statement on July 1st warning that treating COVID-19 with hydroxychloroquine has been linked to serious heart rhythm problems and other safety issues (kidney injuries, liver failure).

These good studies have doctors pretty convinced that hydroxychloroquine doesn’t work. Even more studies are underway. We’ll keep you posted if something changes.


Last update: July 28, 2020, 8:42 pm ET

Science review: JAB