Malaysia still uses ‘Hydroxycholoquine’ cautiously to treat COVID-19 patients


The Ministry of Health (MOH) is constantly monitoring COVID-19 patients receiving treatment using anti-malaria drug, ‘Hydroxychloroquine’ to detect for any possible side effects.

Health director-general Datuk Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah said Malaysia is still cautiously administering the drug to treat patients.

He admitted the drug to treat malaria is known to cause several side effects which include irregular heartbeat and blurred vision.

“Based on the experience and views of healthcare experts, it was found the anti-inflammation drug can prevent the infection (COVID-19) from becoming worse at the early stage even though it has side effects in terms of heartbeat and vision.

“Hydroxychloroquine’ has been used for over 40 years to treat malaria but it is used as an off-label to treat COVID-19 patients now,’’ he said at the daily briefing on COVID-19 yesterday.

Elaborating further, Dr. Noor Hisham said any usage of off-label medicines should be monitored to deal with side effects that could potentially put patients’ health at risk.

“For example, if a patient has rapid heartbeat, then we will immediately stop usage of the drug in order to prevent heart failure and so on,” he explained.

He said healthcare experts are in the midst of gathering data for the proposed study on the effectiveness of  ‘hydroxychloroquine’ to treat COVID-19 patients.          

“The experts are still studying how to prevent existing side effects and avoid high dosage. Let us wait for the literature review which will be issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in mid-June,” he said.

WHO said on Monday it had temporarily suspended clinical trials of ‘hydroxychloriquine’  as a potential treatment for COVID-19 which was carried out across the globe as a precautionary measure.