Our position on Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19

Over the past few days, there have been several unsubstantiated reports of two medications used to treat COVID-19. These include hydroxychloroquine, which is an anti-malarial drug that is also used to treat autoimmune conditions, and azithromycin, which is an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections.

Please know, there is currently no role for hydroxychloroquine (with or without azithromycin) in the treatment of coronavirus. These medications are also not without risk.

The combination of drugs is possibly being tried on a compassionate basis at affected senior homes. It has also been used in a very small number of patients in Wuhan, China. These were the sickest patients and, at this time, there is little reported benefit from the use of these medications. There is also a potential study of the drugs underway in the United States, again, in an intensive care setting.

Please note, there is no proven value for the use of this medication on an experimental basis in a potentially mildly ill population. Indeed, widespread prescribing of these drugs will only lead to a global shortage and negatively impact the care of those individuals who are currently using these medications for other unrelated conditions.

At Copeman Healthcare, we strive to provide an evidence-based approach to your care and, at this time, we do not see the evidence to support the use of these medications. This has been discussed within the physician group. For your safety, and as a matter of policy, we have arrived at the decision that we will not be providing these medications for the treatment of COVID-19.

We know that many of you are afraid and that this is a stressful time, however it’s also important that we, as your physicians, provide you with sound advice.

If you contract cold and flu symptoms, we ask you to assume that you are COVID-19 positive. If you require hospitalization, you will be swabbed and tested for COVID-19. If you are healthy or only have mild symptoms, you will not be swabbed (unless you are a healthcare or emergency worker) and will be sent home from the emergency room. If you are asked to follow these instructions, please isolate yourself as per your local health authority and physician advice.

There is no treatment or vaccination for COVID-19. The BC Centre of Disease Control released a document on unproven therapies for COVID-19. Similarly, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia released a joint statement on unproven therapies for COVID-19 including, but not limited to, hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, azithromycin, lopinavir/ritonavir (Kaletra) and colchicine.

For the latest advice on COVID-19 in BC, please visit our website or the BC Centre for Disease Control at BCCDC.

For the latest advice on COVID-19 in Alberta, please visit our website or the Alberta Health Services COVID-19 website.