A pharmacy worker shows pills of hydroxychloroquine used to treat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the CHR Centre Hospitalier Regional de la Citadelle Hospital in Liege, Belgium, April 22, 2020. (File photo: Agencies)
PARIS - France on Wednesday banned the use of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat patients suffering severe forms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
"Whether in town or in hospitals, this molecule should not be prescribed for COVID-19 patients," said the Health Ministry.
The decision came after the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that it had suspended a global trial of the malaria drug on COVID-19 patients while the safety data is being reviewed.
Last week, a study published in British medical journal The Lancet said patients receiving the drug, used alone or with a macrolide, had a higher mortality rate.
On March 26, France allowed the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat specific situations of COVID-19 patients, in hospitals only.
According to the WHO, over 400 hospitals in 35 countries were recruiting patients and nearly 3,500 patients have been enrolled from 17 countries under the Solidarity Trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of four drugs and drug combinations against COVID-19, which include hydroxychloroquine.