Hydroxychloroquine Clinical Trial Patient Participation Plummets: A Casualty of American Politics?

May 11, 2020 | Chloroquine, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Hydroxychloroquine, Patient Enrollment, Popular Posts

Hydroxychloroquine Clinical Trial Patient Participation Plummets: A Casualty of American Politics?

Clinical research sites in the Northwest are struggling to enroll patients to important novel coronavirus clinical trials. For example, enrollment and some key studies at the University of Washington—including investigations into chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine—have been “anemic” to date, reports the Seattle Times. UW had high hopes that the pandemic would lead to droves of patients—it hasn’t turned out that way. Targeting up to 2,000 participants, UW has secured under 260 participants for a $9.5 million-dollar study ongoing in Seattle and six other sites nationwide. Another UW study has only enrolled 30 patients. “What is going on?” asks Seattle Times staff reporter Sandi Doughton.

Participation Plummets

First and foremost, participation in clinical research has followed an oppositional direction than was initially forecasted—it has plummeted. A confluence of forces have created bad conditions for study enrollment. For starters, reports of adverse events—heart arrhythmias associated with the experimental drugs followed by U.S. Food and Drug—edicts that select study drugs should only be given in hospitals or clinical trials, reports Ms. Doughton. Frankly, it has spooked would be participants.

As Principal Investigator Dr. Ruanne Barnabas put it, once the word got out about such safety concerns, “our enrollment fell almost down to zero” reports the Seattle Times. Dr. Barnabas is leading one of the studies

Political Casualties?

Interestingly (and disturbingly), some believe that the drugs, which happened to have been promoted by President Donald Trump, were actually targeted for political motivations. In other words, drugs such as hydroxychloroquine are being used by studies around the world looking into COVID-19. If administered carefully, it poses little risk. But because of the politically charged environment, it is sort of death by association. That would be a shame.

Columbia University Pulls the Plug

Columbia University researchers will pull the plug on another comparable clinical trial, due in part to lackluster patient enrollment. Perhaps related to the unfortunate political residual mentioned above, Dr. Jon Giles noted that at first it seemed everyone was interested in hydroxychloroquine, but now unfortunately, “nobody wants to take it.” He continued for the Seattle Times, “It’s gone from one extreme that’s bad for science to another extreme, which is also not good for science.”

Follow the source to review the rest of this important and unfortunate story written by Sandi Doughton of the Seattle Times.


  1. bh

    It is not just politics. it’s price that kills HCQ.
    The media and FDA have done all they can to defame and destroy HCQ.
    It has failed in most tests because the tests were designed to fail.
    HCQ must be used early before patients go to the hospital.
    The drug must also be given with zinc (which it was not). But remdesivir, a new and untested drug
    (does not have 70 years of usage behind it like HCQ) is welcomed with open arms by the FDA and all of the main power players. What is the difference.
    HCQ is cheap and no big company will make billions by it use. Remdesivir will likely cost $5,000 per dose.
    It will likely take 10 doses to help treat the virus, so the total cost $50,000 on top
    of the big bill the hospital will already give you.
    It will not be long and the FDA and the other power players will ban
    the use of HCQ and give Gilead a clear path to clean house (profit wise) with their new drug.

    • TrialSite

      Dear BH,
      We can’t be certain as to the validity of your statements–but we are open minded and in to a healthy, diverse debate on these matters. We are certainly monitoring some critical clinical trials overseas involving HCQ. We can certainly concur that a confluence of forces, elements and alliances drive the intersection of money, power and drugs. One reason we launched TrialSite News was to try to help make research more transparent, accessible and easier to follow. But sometimes things become so obvious; so apparent that the naked truth speaks for itself–so the question becomes then what to do about it. Well we will continue to look to find results that we can share with others–hopefully if enough people get informed, engaged, activated and involved then through their actions, behaviors and choices positive impacts can result over time. Call us naive and stubborn but we will continue to look at the glass half-full and shine a light on these matters.
      By the way we are grateful for your comments and your visit.
      Best Regards,

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