FAQs on use of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ)

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Last Updated on December 16, 2020 by The Health Master

The National Task Force for C-19 constituted by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine for those at high risk of contracting the C-19 virus infection.

The Union health ministry issued an advisory on the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine or HCQ, which is being cited by many a drug that can treat C-19.

Medicine Tablets
Picture: Pixabay

Here are answers to the frequently answered questions:

Q. What is HCQ?

Ans: It stands for hydroxychloroquine, a medication used to prevent and treat malaria.

Q. Is it effective against C-19?

Ans: As of now, there is no specific anti-viral medication against C-19. Only in preclinical laboratory studies, HCQ was found effective against C-19 virus. Only under exceptional circumstances, and only for the protection of high-risk individuals.

Q. Do we have enough stocks in the country for high-risk individuals?

Ans: Yes. There is sufficient availability of HCQ in India at present and will continue to be so in the future too.

Also read: No shortage of HCQ tablets in country: HM

Q. Who is it recommended for?

1. Asymptomatic health care workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed C-19
2. Asymptomatic household contacts of confirmed cases

Q. Who is it not recommended for?

1. The drug is not recommended to children below the age of 15.
2. It is contradicted in persons with a known case of retinopathy and known hypersensitivity to hydroxychloroquine or 4-aminoquinoline compounds.
3. It is not advised for patients with cardiac irregularities or those suffering from a cardiac disease which can be harmful.

Q. What is the dosage?

1. Asymptomatic although care workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed C-19: 400 mg twice a day on Day 1, followed by 400 mg once weekly for the next 7 weeks; to be taken with meals.
2. Asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases: 400 mg twice a day on Day 1, followed by 400 mg once weekly for the next 3 weeks; to be taken with meals.

Q. What are the key considerations?

1. The placing of healthcare workers under chemoprophylaxis should not instil false sense security. They should follow prescribed public health measures such as frequent washing of hands, respiratory etiquette, keeping a minimum 1m distance and use of personal protective equipment or PPE (wherever applicable).

2. They should self monitor their health and report to health authorities immediately in the event of them becoming symptomatic.

3. The high-risk contacts of a positive case placed under chemoprophylaxis should remain in home quarantine while on prophylactic therapy.

4. As recommended by the said task force the drug should only be given on a prescription of a registered medical practitioner. The contradiction mentioned in the recommendation should be strictly followed.

5. Apart from the symptoms of C-19 (fever, cough, breathing difficulty), if the person on chemoprophylaxis develops any other symptoms, he should immediately seek medical treatment of the medical practitioner who has prescribed it.

6. Advised to consult with a physician for any adverse event or potential drug interaction before initiation of medication.

7. The prophylactic use of hydroxychloroquine to be coupled with pharmacovigilance or adverse drug reaction through self-reporting using the Pharmacovigilance Programme of India helpline or app.

8. If anyone becomes symptomatic while on prophylactic he-she should immediately contact the health facility, get tested as per national guidelines and follow the standard treatment protocol.

9. All asymptomatic contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases should remain in home quarantine as per the national guidelines, even if they are on prophylactic therapy.

10. Simultaneously, proof of concept and pharmacokinetics studies be taken up expeditiously. Findings from these studies and other new evidence will guide any change in the recommendation.

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