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University of Utah experts are expressing concern about the hype surrounding two medications that President Donald Trump and state officials have held up as potential treatments for the coronavirus.
Andy Pavia, chief of pediatric infectious disease at the U., is also urging caution, noting that the nations top infectious disease expert has warned that there is no convincing evidence yet that these drugs work, only stories.
The drugs have been used for years for arthritis, psoriasis and malaria, and are available in Utah pharmacies through prescription by doctors. But Grunwald said casting the unproven medications as a potential treatment for coronavirus could incite panic buying and limit the availability of the drugs for sick patients who depend on them.
The geneticist said hes not asserting that the drugs are necessarily ineffective just that they are wholly unproved.
I am simply saying defying the principles of reviewed science has dangerous consequences, especially seen in a community that is fearful and in an environment that is susceptible to panicked behavior, said Grunwald, who is a scientist, but not a medical doctor.
The drugs have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for COVID-19 although Utah officials said Friday that doctors still may prescribe them for COVID-19 patients here and say evidence shows they should.
On the other hand, Pavia said medical experts dont yet have good data about whether the drugs are effective against the virus.
We need to be very cautious until we have better information. In fact, chloroquine worked in the test tube against other viruses but proved to be potentially harmful when properly studied, he said. "We hope it works, but hope is not the best way to choose safe and effective treatment.
The information that youre referring to specifically is anecdotal, Fauci told reporters. It was not done in a controlled clinical trial. So you really cant make any definitive statement about it.
Trump, standing next to Fauci, still said the federal government has ordered millions of doses. He also said the nation has nothing to lose by trying it.
During Fridays news conference, Utah officials and medical representatives were essentially saying the same things as the president.
There are responses that are equivalent to Lazarus literally the biblical Lazarus people almost dead coming back, said physician Kurt Hegmann, director of the Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Utah, about hydroxychloroquine.
Officials said they are surveying Utah pharmacies to see how much of the drugs they now have on hand and are working with other states to develop plans for distributing the drugs to areas in need.
They also cautioned doctors and pharmacists to be judicious in how they dispense the drugs for now.
Utah Senate President Stuart Adams said the news conference about the drugs was called to give worried Utahns some hope.
We need some good news. We think this is good news, the Layton Republican said. We believe theres hope in America.
Utahs state epidemiologist, Angela Dunn, said last week that a lot of scientists internationally and in the U.S. are studying medications that could help treat COVID-19. Most have involved extremely small patient groups, she noted.
Current studies about the malaria drugs specifically have been very small sample sizes one in particular was only 40 people so its difficult to extrapolate that to large population," she said. So the next step is to do studies with bigger populations to see if its effective.
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