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Long-term hydroxychloroquine use in patients with rheumatic conditions and development of SARS-CoV-2 infection: a retrospective cohort study

Author

Lancet Rheumatol. 2020 Sep 21. doi: 10.1016/S2665-9913(20)30305-2. Online ahead of print.

Chris A Gentry 1, Mary Beth Humphrey 2 3, Sharanjeet K Thind 4 5, Sage C Hendrickson 1, George Kurdgelashvili 4 5, Riley J Williams 2nd 1

Author Information

1 Pharmacy Service, Medical Service, Oklahoma City Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, Oklahoma City, OK, USA.

2 Section of Rheumatology/Immunology, Medical Service, Oklahoma City Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, Oklahoma City, OK, USA.

3 Section of Rheumatology/Immunology, Department of Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK, USA.

4 Section of Infectious Diseases, Medical Service, Oklahoma City Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, Oklahoma City, OK, USA.

5 Section of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK, USA.

Abstract

Background: Hydroxychloroquine is one of several agents being evaluated in the treatment of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. We aimed to examine whether patients with rheumatological conditions receiving chronic hydroxychloroquine therapy are at less risk of developing SARS-CoV-2 infection than those not receiving hydroxychloroquine.

Methods: This retrospective cohort study included de-identified information of all veterans in the US Veterans Health Administration clinical administrative database aged 18 years or older with rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, or associated rheumatological conditions (based on International Classification of Diseases, 10th edition, diagnostic codes) who were alive on March 1, 2020. A propensity score was calculated for each patient, and each patient who was receiving hydroxychloroquine was matched to two patients who were not receiving hydroxychloroquine (controls). The primary endpoint was the proportion of patients with PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection among those receiving chronic hydroxychloroquine versus the propensity-matched patients not receiving chronic hydroxychloroquine between March 1 and June 30, 2020. Secondary outcomes were hospital admission associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection; intensive care requirement associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection; mortality associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection; and overall rates of any hospital admission and mortality (ie, all cause). Multivariate logistic regression analysis was done to determine independent variables for the development of active SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Findings: Between March 1 and June 30, 2020, 10 703 patients receiving hydroxychloroquine and 21 406 patients not receiving hydroxychloroquine were included in the primary analysis. The incidence of active SARS-CoV-2 infections during the study period did not differ between patients receiving hydroxychloroquine and patients not receiving hydroxychloroquine (31 [0·3%] of 10 703 vs 78 [0·4%] of 21 406; odds ratio 0·79, 95% CI 0·52-1·20, p=0·27). There were no significant differences in secondary outcomes between the two groups in patients who developed active SARS-CoV-2 infection. For all patients in the study, overall mortality was lower in the hydroxychloroquine group than in the group of patients who did not receive hydroxychloroquine (odds ratio 0·70, 95% CI 0·55-0·89, p=0·0031). In multivariate logistic regression analysis, receipt of hydroxychloroquine was not associated with the development of active SARS-CoV-2 infection (odds ratio 0·79, 95% CI 0·51-1·42).

Interpretation: Hydroxychloroquine was not associated with a preventive effect against SARS-CoV-2 infection in a large group of patients with rheumatological conditions.

Funding: None.