Oscanoa TJ, et al. Int J Antimicrob Agents 2020.
The pandemic caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is having serious consequences on health and the economy worldwide. All evidence-based treatment strategies need to be considered to combat this new virus. Drugs need to be considered on scientific grounds of efficacy, safety and cost. Chloroquine (CQ) and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) are old drugs used in the treatment of malaria; in addition, their antiviral properties have been previously studied, including in coronaviruses, where evidence of efficacy has been found. The safety of CQ and HCQ has been studied for over 50 years. In the current race against time triggered by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the search for new antivirals is very important. However, consideration should be given to old drugs with known anti-coronavirus activity, such as CQ and HCQ; these could be integrated into current treatment strategies while novel treatments are awaited, also in light of the fact that they display an anticoagulant effect that facilitates the activity of low MW heparin, aimed at preventing ARDS-associated thrombotic events. The safety of CQ and HCQ has been studied for over 50 years, however, recently published data raise concerns for cardiac toxicity of CQ/HCQ in patients with COVID-19. The review that we here provide also reexamines the real information provided by some of the published alarming reports although concluding that cardiac toxicity should in any case be stringently monitored with patients with CQ/HCQ.