Chloroquine and a related compound, hydroxychloroquine, have been associated with cases of psychiatric disturbances and suicidal behavior after being given to COVID-19 patients, warned the EU’s drug regulator today.
The two medicines were some of the first drugs put forward as possible treatments for the coronavirus, and were famously promoted by controversial French doctor Didier Raoult and U.S. President Donald Trump. However, since then, they haven’t shown to be effective in clinical studies.
The European Medicines Agency said that it had initiated a review of the drugs after receiving a notification from Spain’s medicines authority, AEMPS, of six cases of mental disturbances linked to coronavirus patients who were given higher than authorized doses of the medicines.
Following the review, the EMA’s safety committee has recommended that the product information for the medicines be updated to inform health care professionals of these risks.
Both medicines are commonly used to prevent malaria infections and are also approved to treat a number of autoimmune diseases. In certain drugs containing the compounds, psychotic disorders are listed as a rare side effect, the EMA noted.