Ochsner Rheumatologist breaks down hydroxychloroquine amid national debate

Ochsner Rheumatologist breaks down hydroxychloroquine amid national debate

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A doctor with Ochsner Health explained how the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine has been successful in treating patients with Lupus after the debate over the drug’s effectiveness in treating COVID-19 played out on the national stage this week.

Dr. Saravanan Thiagaranjan, head of the Rheumatology department at Ochsner Health in Baton Rouge says hydroxycloroquine could provide some benefit in treating COVID-19 patients because it is used to treat infections like malaria.

However, Thiagaranjan says it has been proven repeatedly that hydroxycloroquine, also known as plaquenil, does not work in treating patients with COVID-19.

“Plaquenil is used in lupus, but it’s not the only medicine used for lupus,” Thiagaranjan said. “It’s used in mild lupus and skin lupus. But when lupus is affecting your heart, lungs and kidneys, you’re not going to spend your money on plaquenil.”

Thiagarajan said he has patients who are prescribed hydroxychloroquine and have tested positive for the coronavirus.

“[COVID-19 patients] may see some minor symptoms improve on plaquenil,” Thiagaranjan said. “But if COVID is affecting your lungs, you’re not going to bet your money on plaquenil, because it’s not showing effectiveness.”

Medical experts and the FDA have said hydroxychloroquine is not a cure for the coronavirus and that it could have some harmful side effects.

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