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Researchers at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy have studied the safety of the antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, as well as the antibiotic azithromycin, which are being studied as potential COVID-19 treatments.

Azithromycin and antimalarial drugs first sparked interest as possible treatments when a small clinical study in France reported promising results with the drugs. However, experts warned about safety concerns surrounding the use of these drugs, particularly regarding the potential for them to cause abnormal heart rhythms.

To complete this study, researchers analyzed 13.3 million reports from the Food and Drug Administration's Adverse Event Reporting System. They determined that the antimalarial drugs were not associated with a risk of abnormal heart rhythm on their own or when prescribed in conjunction with azithromycin. Azithromycin by itself, however, was associated with the risk of abnormal heart rhythm.

"What also needs to be considered is that the existing data, our study included, are based in patients using the medications to manage chronic disease like rheumatoid arthritis or to treat minor upper respiratory infections," Joshua Brown, Pharm.D., Ph.D. from the University of Florida College of Pharmacy said in a press release about the study. "The risk profile could be much higher in patients with severe COVID-19 who are critically ill or have comorbid conditions and may be using these medications at a higher than normal dose."

Researchers point out that their study focuses on safety and does not determine whether these medications will be effective in treating COVID-19. Further drug studies in COVID-19 positive patients are required.

Read more about the study.

Watch our latest HealthDay Now to hear about the state of mental health and why many people fear returning to their social and work lives.

HealthDay's Mabel Jong spoke to Dr. Vivian Pender, president of the American Psychiatric Association, and Sherry Amatenstein, a social worker and therapist who has been dealing with these anxieties herself.

Watch the in-depth discussion above, and see our past HealthDay Nows and other videos on our YouTube channel.

HD Live! Videos

Watch our latest HealthDay Now as we dive into the latest details on multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with Dr. Mary Beth Son, Program Director of Boston Children's Hospital's Rheumatology Program, and Brian Padla, father of James Padla, who has MIS-C.

Watch the in-depth discussion above, and see our past HealthDay Nows and other videos on our YouTube channel.


Watch our latest HealthDay Now as we debunk myths about the COVID-19 vaccines and talk about what the new CDC guidelines for vaccinated people mean.

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with Dr. Paul Offit, Director of the Vaccine Education Center and an attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and one of the physicians on the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, and Dr. Mercedes Carnethon, Vice Chair of Preventive Medicine at the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine.

Watch the in-depth discussion above, and see our past HealthDay Nows and other videos on our YouTube channel.

Watch our latest HealthDay Now as we take a look at how living through the COVID-19 pandemic impacts children socially, mentally and emotionally.

One year in, this is their "new normal," but what does that mean for them? From social isolation to remote learning to a loss of structure and normalcy, we discuss how living during the pandemic has both short- and long-term effects on children.

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with:

  • Dr. Mark Reinecke, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University
  • Tracy Compton, a parent
  • Stephen Guerriero, a teacher
  • Jake Anderson, a student

Watch the in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

Watch our latest HD Live! as we take a look at the COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccination rollout and how they've impacted people of color.

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with:

  • Tasha Clark-Amar, CEO, East Baton Rouge Council on Aging
  • Jill Ramirez, Executive Director, Latino HealthCare Forum (Austin)
  • Vickie Mays, PhD, Professor, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

Watch the in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

Watch our latest HD Live! as we take a look at the global COVID-19 vaccination rollout and how the United States rollout compares.

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with Dr. Ran Balicer of Clalit Health Services and Dr. Arnold Monto of University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Watch the in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

UPDATE 1/26/21: Since our HD Live! interview with CEO Andrei Doroshin, the Philadelphia Health Department has severed its ties with the organization. The nonprofit has changed its status to a for-profit entity.

Watch our latest HD Live! as we take a look at Philly Fighting Covid, a nonprofit organization run by graduate students from Drexel University that aims to help with mass COVID-19 vaccination in Philadelphia.

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with Andrei Doroshin, founder of Philly Fighting Covid.

Watch the in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

Watch our latest HD Live! as we take a deep dive into the vaccine rollout across the country.

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and a member of the Biden COVID-19 Advisory Board.

Watch the in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.

Watch our latest HD Live! as we take a deep dive into the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccines, including the rollout process, potential side effects, supply and distribution.

Mabel Jong from our liveblog team speaks with Dr. Paul Offit, Director of the Vaccine Education Center and an attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and one of the physicians on the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.

Watch the in-depth discussion above, and see our past HD Lives and other videos on our YouTube channel.