ICMR revises advisory on use of HCQ

New Delhi: In a revised advisory, the ICMR, has allowed use of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as prophylaxis, preventive treatment medication for healthcare and other front line workers deployed in non-COVID and COVID areas.

The advisory said the use of HCQ can be expanded to all healthcare workers in containment zones and non-COVID hospitals; the front-line workers; for police, security forces working in containment areas and household contacts of confirmed cases.

The drug is not recommended for children under 15 years of age and in pregnancy and lactation, it said.

However, the advisory cautioned that the intake of the medicine should not instill a sense of false security.

The review team comprised top professionals from AIIMS, ICMR, NCDC, NDMA, WHO and includes experts from central government hospitals under the chairmanship of DGHS.

An earlier advisory said the drug against the infection is also recommended for all asymptomatic healthcare workers involved in containment and treatment of COVID-19 and household contacts of laboratory confirmed cases.

The drug has to be taken only on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner and it is advised to consult with a physician for any adverse event or potential drug interaction before initiation of medication, the advisory added.

The advisory also issued a list of key considerations to be noted, are as follows :

1) The drug has to be given under strict medical supervision with an informed consent.

2) It has to be given only on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner.

3) Advised to consult with a physician for any adverse event or potential drug interaction before initiation of medication. The contraindications mentioned in the recommendations should strictly be followed.

4) Health care workers and other frontline workers on HCQ should be advised to use PPE.

5) They should be advised to consult their physician (within their hospital/surveillance team) for any adverse event or potential drug interaction before initiation of medication.

6) If anyone becomes symptomatic while on prophylaxis, he/she should immediately contact the health facility, get tested as per national guidelines and follow the standard treatment protocol.

7) All asymptomatic contacts of laboratory confirmed cases should remain in home quarantine as per the National guidelines, even if they are on prophylactic therapy.

8) Simultaneously, proof of concept and pharmacokinetics studies should be continued/ taken up expeditiously.

9) They should follow all prescribed public health measures such as frequent washing of hands, respiratory etiquettes, keeping a distance of minimum 1meter and use of personal protective gear.