(NBC) — The World Health Organization announced on Monday that it's suspending a trial of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19, saying fears of the drug's potential danger is causing it to "err on the side of caution."
The medication, best known for use against malaria and autoimmune disorders, has been touted as a possible answer to COVID-19 by President Donald Trump.
But WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said evidence has shown harmful side effects of hydroxychloroquine, including heart problems.
"The executive group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity trial while the safety data is reviewed by the data safety monitoring board. The other arms of the trial are continuing,” Tedros told an online briefing.
Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, WHO's chief scientist, said the organization's own investigators and regulators in individual nations have raised enough red flags about hydroxychloroquine to prompt this halt.
"So the steering committee met over the weekend and decided that in the light of this uncertainty, that we should be proactive, err on the side of caution, and suspend enrollment, temporarily, into the hydroxychloroquine arm," she said.