Hydroxychloroquine is not recommended as a treatment for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Also, hydroxychloroquine doesn’t prevent infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.
In March 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, also called the FDA, allowed emergency use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat COVID-19. The FDA based this authorization on data collected from healthcare professionals and tests done on cell lines, not humans.
The FDA also began tracking the health of people taking these medicines.
In April 2020, the FDA warned healthcare professionals against using hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat COVID-19 unless people were in the hospital or a clinical trial. Data collected by the FDA found heart problems at a higher rate among people taking these medicines compared with those who didn’t take them.
In June 2020, the FDA ended the emergency use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for treatment of COVID-19.
Over time, clinical trials showed hydroxychloroquine:
- Led to serious heart problems in some people.
- Did not effectively treat COVID-19.
- Did not prevent infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.
Available treatments for COVID-19
The FDA has approved or authorized for emergency use other medicines to treat COVID-19. People can get these medicines with a prescription.
Some of the medicines prevent the virus that causes COVID-19 from making copies of itself. Others block activity within the virus that helps it make copies. Some medicines work with the body’s immune system, while others lower the level of inflammation in the body to help treat COVID-19. Researchers are studying other medicines to treat and prevent COVID-19.
Don’t take any medicine for COVID-19 without a prescription and your healthcare professional’s approval. These medicines can have serious side effects. They’re only used for people who are very ill and under a healthcare professional’s care.
Sept. 26, 2023
- Terminated or revoked EUAs. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/mcm-legal-regulatory-and-policy-framework/emergency-use-authorization-archived-information#covid19. Accessed Sept. 25, 2023.
- FDA cautions against use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for COVID-19 outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems, review of safety issues. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-cautions-against-use-hydroxychloroquine-or-chloroquine-covid-19-outside-hospital-setting-or. Accessed Sept. 25, 2023.
- COVID-19 treatment guidelines. National Institutes of Health. https://www.covid19treatmentguidelines.nih.gov/overview/prevention-of-sars-cov-2/. Accessed Sept. 25, 2023.
- Giudicessi JR, et al. Urgent guidance for navigating and circumventing the QTc-prolonging and torsadogenic potential of possible pharmacotherapies for coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19). Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2020; doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2020.03.024.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) drugs. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/emergency-preparedness-drugs/coronavirus-covid-19-drugs. Accessed Sept. 25, 2023.
- COVID-19 science update released October 9, 2020, edition 55. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/library/covid19/100920_covidupdate.html. Accessed Sept. 25, 2023.
- Emergency use authorization for drugs and non-vaccine biological products. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/emergency-preparedness-drugs/emergency-use-authorizations-drugs-and-non-vaccine-biological-products. Accessed Sept. 25, 2023.
- AskMayoExpert. COVID-19: Drug regimens and other treatment options. Mayo Clinic; 2023.