Robin Armstrong, medical director of The Resort at Texas City nursing home, is conducting a controversial observational study on the elderly patients diagnosed with COVID-19 in his nursing home. He’s administering the drug hydroxychloroquine to residents with the virus even though the drug has not been proven to treat coronavirus.
As an 80-year-old drug, hydroxychloroquine is used to treat malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. It is not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat COVID-19, though there are clinical trials by the University of Minnesota and Columbia University that are being tracked by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). The results of these trials won’t come for weeks or months.
While Armstrong has reported that some of the 39 patients on the medication have been getting better, scientists are wary of his results. The only way to know if a drug works is through trials in controlled settings. Scientists are also wary because the drug can have serious side effects, like irregular heartbeats and seizures.
Even though the drug has not yet been proven to treat COVID-19, it has become harder for people with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis who rely on the drug on a daily basis to secure their medication. Some have been told to take smaller doses to make their current prescription last longer in case they will not be able to secure more in the future if it is allocated to coronavirus patients.
Although the medication has been unfoundedly praised by President Trump as a miracle drug, Armstrong says that he was not swayed by these claims. He says that clinical studies from Europe and China that had positive results are what convinced him to use the drug on his residents.
Armstrong says that before he administered the drug to any patients, he screened them for which patients it would benefit the most. Any patient who receives the drug has their temperature, blood oxygen saturation, and breathing monitored. Armstrong said, “The people who are on it were getting sicker but were not so sick that they had to go to the hospital.”
While the drug seems to be helpful in this case, the trial is not being conducted properly. Katherine Seley-Radtke, a medicinal chemist at The University of Maryland, Baltimore County, says, “The problem with this is that it’s not being conducted in a proper scientific manner. It’s not being carried out with controls. It’s not being carried out under strict testing protocols and using appropriate guidelines.”
Of The Resort’s 135 residents, 56 have been reported to test positive with the virus. 31 staff members have also tested positive, bringing their total to 87 positive cases. The facility implemented social distancing and other restrictions before the state-mandated protocol, which helped snuff the spread of the virus. Only one patient has died.
This can be a confusing time for your family, but especially if you have a loved one in a nursing home. At Thomas Law Offices, we are here to support you if you believe your loved one is being mistreated in their facility. Reach out to us today and we can discuss your concerns and see what actions are available to you.