France on Wednesday revoked the authorization allowing hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19 patients, a day after halting the use of the malaria drug in clinical trials. Both steps come on the back of moves by the World Health Organization to temporarily remove the drug from global trials over safety concerns.
In France, the drug was promoted as a miracle cure by a maverick infectious diseases specialist based in Marseille, Didier Raoult, who rose to prominence by conducting several questionable experiments that he said had proved the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in combating the virus.
France had authorized limited use of the drug on patients in serious condition and had included it in several clinical trials. But now the country has joined the ranks of others moving away from the use of the drug, even after several prominent figures, including President Trump, have promoted it.
Mr. Trump has said he has taken hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure, despite the lack of evidence that it works against Covid-19.
The president of El Salvador said this week that he was taking the drug in hopes of warding off the coronavirus.
“I use it as a prophylaxis, President Trump uses it as a prophylaxis, most of the world’s leaders use it as a prophylaxis,” Reuters quoted the Salvadoran president, Nayib Bukele, as saying on Tuesday. (In fact, few if any other world leaders have said they take the drug.)
Mr. Bukele told reporters on Tuesday that his government was no longer promoting the drug as a treatment, following the W.H.O.’s advice, but that patients could still take it as a preventive treatment. El Salvador has just over 2,000 confirmed cases of the virus.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Bukele are not the only leaders promoting hydroxychloroquine in some way, despite the lack of evidence that it works against the virus. Last week, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil unveiled rules to expand the prescription of chloroquine, a predecessor of the drug.