Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday. (Photo/ANI)
Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday. (Photo/ANI)

Decided not to deny health workers HCQ based on risk-benefit analysis: ICMR DG

ANI | Updated: May 26, 2020 21:30 IST

New Delhi [India], May 26 (ANI): Noting that a lot of drugs are being repurposed for treatment of COVID-19, ICMR Director-General Dr Balram Bhargava on Tuesday said that prophylactic use of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for health care workers had been recommended on the basis of risk-benefit analysis and the drug should be used under strict medical supervision.
Answering queries during the regular media briefing on the COVID-19 situation in the country, the ICMR had recommended it as the preventive treatment on a trial basis under strict medical supervision.
"COVID-19 is an evolving field. We do not know which drug is working and which drug is not working. Lots of drugs are being repurposed for COVID-19. Taking biological plausibility, in-vitro data, and safety of this drug (HCQ), we recommend it under strict medical supervision. Based on risk-benefit we found that possibly we should not deny our health workers from using it," Bhargava said.
"The biological plausibility was supporting that it is possibly an anti-viral drug. Once we got the biological plausibility and we also felt that we had conducted some in-vitro studies in testing labs and found that it has anti-viral properties. HCQ has been widely used against malaria. Considering its anti-viral properties, in-vitro study data and availability and safety, we had recommended it as preventive treatment on trial basis under strict medical supervision," he added.
He was asked about the World Health Organisation (WHO) suspending clinical trials of HCQ as a potential treatment of COVID-19.

The decision was taken after a study published in The Lancet medical journal published last week observed that HCQ could increase the risk of death among COVID-19 patients.
Bhargava said ICMR has launched a study to know the efficacy of HCQ.
"During these six weeks of the study, we got some data in India. They were mainly observational studies and some of them were case-control studies. We found no major side-effects, except nausea, vomiting, palpitation. We hence advised that there is no harm, the benefit may be there, its use should be continued," he said.
After some promising results on the efficacy of prophylactic use of HCQ against COVID-19 infection, the Central government had on Thursday expanded the use of the medicine as prophylaxis to healthcare and other frontline workers deployed in non-COVID and COVID areas.
The Union Health Ministry issued a revised advisory on the use of HCQ as prophylactic for COVID-19 infection last week. (ANI)