The French drug agency (ANSM) reported on Wednesday a slight risk of fetal malformation associated with taking a high dose of hydroxychloroquine, a treatment known to have been the subject of speculation about its supposed effectiveness against the Covid-19.
"Children exposed to hydroxychloroquine during their mother's pregnancy are at higher risk of serious birth defects," the National Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM) said in a statement.
The agency is based on a study published in February in the journal American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Carried out by comparing the outcome of 2,000 pregnancies under hydroxychloroquine to a group that did not take this treatment, it concludes that there is a risk of malformations in the child. However, this risk remains very limited (1.33 higher when taking the drug) and only proven when hydroxychloroquine is taken in a high-dose form.
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This treatment is mainly used in rheumatology for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is also used in the prevention of malaria. But it is first known to the general public for having been defended by certain researchers, such as infectious disease specialist Didier Raoult, as a treatment against Covid. However, no research has convincingly proven its effectiveness.
As such, the ANSM also recalled that hydroxychloroquine cannot be considered a treatment for Covid, any more than other widely discredited leads such as azithromycin and ivermectin. "The data published to date in adults continue to show that these molecules have no clinical benefit in the management of this pathology", underlines the ANSM. “Furthermore, their use exposes patients to potential adverse effects which can be serious.”