University of Minnesota Clinical Trial with Hydroxychloroquine for COVID19

March 20, 2020

From Ahvie Herskowitz, MD

A new 1,500-person clinical trial for using Plaquenil (Hydroxychloroquine), the 50+-year-old anti-malarial drug, is now being launched to determine whether the drug is effective in PREVENTION. That is, it includes only those who are high risk but DO NOT have symptoms:

  1. closely exposed to a person with confirmed COVID-19 disease within three days; AND,
  2. are a household contact or a healthcare worker; AND,
  3. do not have current symptoms of COVID-19 disease.

This is based on many reports of effectiveness in symptomatic patients in China and Italy. There are interesting things to know:

  1. The study is placebo-controlled — 750 persons get the drug; 750 persons get placebo;
  2. The study excludes persons with symptoms, and includes only high-risk individuals listed above;
  3. It does not provide the dose to be used — to prevent malaria. We use 200 mg tabs, two tabs (400 mg) twice a day (total 800 mg) on day 1, followed by 200 mg twice a day (total 400 mg) for the next four days; while in clinical trials in China and Europe, 600 mg (3 tabs) were used for ten days, and in some studies, they added the antibiotic azithromycin (Zithromax pack) for the first five days.
  4. The study only studies Hydroxychloroquine, not in combination with Zithromax.
  5. Apparently, they will do this study exclusively as outpatients, in that they will ship the drug overnight to participants; and
  6. They do not require EKGs (electrocardiograms) since the most serious side effect of the drug is “QT prolongation,” which, as a Cardiologist, I am aware of and concerned about for those patients with abnormal EKGs.
  7. Since most pharmacies in the USA are already out of stock, this may be a good option for some people exposed.
  8. IF YOU WANT TO SIGN UP, contact>
  9. I continue to save the combination of Hydroxychloroquine and Zithromax for persons with viral symptoms.
  10. We can likely expect pharmacies to be able to restock Hydroxychloroquine in the next 7-10 days.


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About Ahvie Herskowitz, MD

Dr. Herskowitz’s extensive training includes a medical degree from The Albert Einstein College of Medicine, residencies in Anatomic Pathology and Internal Medicine, and Fellowship training in Cardiology at The Johns Hopkins Medical Center. During his 12 years at Johns Hopkins, he became Associate Professor of Medicine and Immunology and Molecular Microbiology and led a research team in the study of molecular and immunological mechanisms of inflammation, autoimmunity, ischemia, heart transplantation rejection and congestive heart failure.

Dr. Herskowitz’s latest academic appointment was as Clinical Professor of Medicine at UC San Francisco. To learn more about Dr. Herskowitz, you can read it bio here.


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