Queues at Marseille hospital for drug

Would-be patients are now queuing up for testing and potential treatment at a Marseille hospital which has taken the unilateral decision to use a promising drug combination against Covid-19.

23 March 2020
By Oliver Rowland

There was been no official go-ahead for the actions, but the hospital says it is following the doctors’ Hippocratic oath to save lives.

A week ago Prof Didier Raoult of the IHU Méditerranée Infection hospital (a member of the official Covid-19 scientific advistory council to the government) posted online a video about positive early results at the hospital with the drug chloroquine which is already being used in China and South Korea.

Since then official trials across several European countries, including France, have been announced into the use of the drug, more commonly used in malaria cases, against Covid-19, as well as into several other drugs.

However the IHU Méditérannée is now systematically testing all patients who present at the hospital with a fever, and is automatically offering those testing postive for Covid-19 a treatment which they consider offers the best chances of speeding recovery, involving the combination of a chloroquine drug and another medicine.

They said in a statement they consider they are following their duty as doctors, and note that their preferred treatment combination is not being included in the official French trials.

The head of the IHU’s infectious diseases department, Philippe Parola, told FranceInfo that it is only right to diagnose as quickly as possible, and to treat as soon as a treatment is available.

He added that they take precautions and do not administer the treatment when there is too high a risk. 

“These molecules – chloroquine and azithromycin – have been used for years and we know their side effects, including in combination.”

The doctor added that they are simply being responsible towards patients, especially elderly people, in treating as early as possible before the illness gets worse.

“We’re not witch-doctors, the Chinese authorities have been using it for a long time,” he said.

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