South Dakota drops drug tests to prevent COVID-19

June 5, 2020 GMT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota has dropped plans to test an anti-malaria drug to prevent COVID-19, the partners in the study said Friday.

The statewide tests were called off after a University of Minnesota study found that the drug hydroxychloroquine had no benefit over a placebo as a way to prevent COVID-19 in people exposed to the coronavirus. The drug hydroxychloroquine has attracted controversy after President Donald Trump promoted it as an antidote to COVID-19, but was shown in studies not to help, and even to be harmful, to people hospitalized by the virus.

Sanford Health, Avera Health and Monument Health were collaborating on the tests, which were sponsored by the state of South Dakota. Gov. Kristi Noem said last month the state was going ahead with plans to test small amounts of the drug.

“After closely reviewing the new research, our clinical trial team determined that the South Dakota study is unlikely to see different results,” said Dr. Susan Hoover, Sanford Health infectious disease doctor and principal investigator of the study.

The South Dakota trial was in the early stages and had just recently opened for enrollment.

Noem said in a statement that the state “will continue to invest our resources into the most promising approaches to preventing and treating COVID-19.”

The partners are continuing to evaluate options for collaborating on statewide COVID-19 research.