Dr. Anthony Fauci called a study by Henry Ford Health System on the effectiveness of using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 "flawed" during testimony in front of a House subcommittee on Friday afternoon.
The study, which has been touted by President Donald Trump and other Republicans, contradicts other studies that found the drug does not effectively treat COVID-19.
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer from Missouri, a Republican from Missouri, asked Fauci about the study and said that a doctor told him if zinc is involved, the drug would work.
Fauci responded by breaking down the study, saying it was a non-controlled, retrospective cohort study that had "a number of issues."
Those include, according to Fauci, the fact that people who received hydroxychloroquine were also using corticosteroids.
"We know from another study (corticosteroids) gives benefit in reducing deaths with advanced disease," he said.
"That study is a flawed study, and I think anyone who examines it carefully is that it is not a randomized placebo-controlled trial.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said again on Friday that no randomized placebo-controlled trial has shown that hydroxychloroquine works as a Covid-19 treatment. https://t.co/rIeLfUovHs pic.twitter.com/QzKUTFGGZ6
— CNN (@CNN) July 31, 2020
Luetkemeyer interrupted Fauci, saying the study had been peer-reviewed.
“It doesn’t matter, you can peer-review something that’s a bad study," Fauci responded. "The fact is it is not a randomized placebo-controlled trial. The point that I think is important, because we all want to keep an open mind, any and all of the randomized placebo-controlled trials, which is the gold standard of determining if something is effective, none of them have shown any efficacy for hydroxychloroquine."
Fauci added that when he does see a randomized, placebo-controlled trial that looks at the drug's usage that shows effectiveness, "I would be the first one to admit it and promote it."
On Monday, two doctors at Henry Ford penned an open letter on the study.
Read the letter below.
To our friends and colleagues around the country and globe:
We believe wholeheartedly that a mission statement is more than a plaque we hang on a wall, but rather an idea we embed in our hearts and minds that unifies, empowers and enables us to do what we do every day for the people of our communities.
Our mission is to improve people’s lives through excellence in the science and art of health care and healing. For more than 100 years, we have proudly pioneered clinical and scientific breakthroughs that have advanced health care here and abroad.
As an early hotspot for the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen and lived its devastating effects alongside our patients and families. Perhaps that’s what makes us even more determined to rally our researchers, frontline care team members and leaders together in boldness, participating in scientific research, including clinical trials, to find the safest care and most effective treatments. While feeling the same sense of urgency everyone else does to recognize a simple, single remedy for COVID-19, we need to be realistic in the time it takes to fully understand the optimal therapy or combination of therapies required of a new virus we are all trying to contain.
The most well-accepted and definitive method to determine the efficacy of a treatment is a double-blind, randomized clinical trial. However, this type of study takes a long time to design, execute and analyze. Therefore, a whole scientific field exists in which scientists examine how a drug is working in the real world to get as best an answer as they can as soon as possible. These types of studies can be done much more rapidly with data that is already available, usually from medical records.
Like all observational research, these studies are very difficult to analyze and can never completely account for the biases inherent in how doctors make different decisions to treat different patients. Furthermore, it is not unusual that results from such studies vary in different populations and at different times, and no one study can ever be considered all by itself.
Our promising Henry Ford treatment study should be considered as another important contribution to the other studies of hydroxychloroquine that describes what the authors found in our patient population. We – along with all doctors and scientists – eagerly support the need for randomized clinical trials.
We also want to point out that scientific debate is a common occurrence with almost every published study. In part, this is what fuels the advancement of knowledge – challenging one another on our assumptions, conclusions and applications to get to a better place for the patients we collectively serve. You can read the original study here and the senior author’s letter to the editor here.
Unfortunately, the political climate that has persisted has made any objective discussion about this drug impossible, and we are deeply saddened by this turn of events. Our goal as scientists has solely been to report validated findings and allow the science to speak for itself, regardless of political considerations. To that end, we have made the heartfelt decision to have no further comment about this outside the medical community – staying focused on our core mission in the interest of our patients, our community, and our commitment to clinical and academic integrity.
Thank you for your support.
Adnan Munkarah, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer
Steven Kalkanis, M.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer
Additional Coronavirus information and resources:
Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.
View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.
See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.
Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.