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URMC study of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 treatment ends without starting

Jun 22, 2020

A study at the University of Rochester Medical Center into the effectiveness of a potential COVID-19 treatment has ended without enrolling a single participant.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which was overseeing the research into hydroxychloroquine, stopped the trial over the weekend after enrolling only 20 participants nationwide.

A bottle of hydroxychloroquine tablets in Texas City, Texas. A study of the drug's effectiveness in treating COVID-19 ended after lackluster enrollment.
Credit David J. Phillip / AP

On Monday, URMC confirmed its recruitment efforts had netted no one who was qualified and willing to be a test subject.

Federal authorities started the trial last month hoping to enroll about 2,000 participants across more than two dozen sites in the U.S.

Dr. Michael Keefer, who was leading the URMC branch of the study, said low numbers of COVID-19 patients locally, coupled with the federal Food and Drug Administration revoking its authorization to use hydroxychloroquine for the disease outside of clinical trials, were hampering their recruitment efforts.

Both URMC and Rochester Regional Health have said they stopped using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 weeks ago.

The allergy and infectious diseases institute said the study of hydroxychloroquine did not stop because of safety concerns, but rather because a growing body of evidence indicates the drug simply doesn’t work against COVID-19.

A spokesperson for URMC said the medical center still has more than 50 other trials underway that are connected to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.