France has banned hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, its government announced Wednesday.
French officials canceled a previous decree that permitted doctors to provide the anti-malaria medicine to certain patients suffering from COVID-19, Reuters reported. The cancellation is set to go into effect immediately.
France is the first country to ban hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment, since the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday that it was stopping a trial testing the drug’s effectiveness in treating COVID-19 patients because of safety concerns.
The French ban was announced in the government’s official bulletin and confirmed by the health ministry, according to Reuters. WHO’s suspension of the trial testing was not mentioned in the statements.
France permitted the controversial drug, which treats malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, to be given to COVID-19 patients in certain situations starting at the end of March.
But studies like one from the British medical journal The Lancet have found increased death rates and irregular heartbeats in those taking the drug.
President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice says it will recommend Trump veto FISA bill Fauci: Nominating conventions may be able to go on as planned Poll: Biden leads Trump by 11 points nationally MORE and other officials have been touting hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the disease, with the president announcing he was taking the drug last week.
There have been no treatments or vaccines officially approved for treating COVID-19.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the virus has infected more than 5.6 million people and killed at least 350,876 people worldwide.