PIERRE S.D. (KEVN/KOTA TV) - Remember the South Dakota clinical trial of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine? It's off to a slow start, with just an estimated 270 COVID-19 patients signed up.
The trial, lead by Sanford Health and involving all healthcare systems in the state, was supposed to initially include 2,000 patients. Gov. Kristi Noem touted it as a "first-in-the-nation clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine sponsored by a state."
The drug, heavily promoted by President Donald Trump, has come under fire by many in the medical community due to side effects.
April 24, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about the drug.
"The FDA is aware of reports of serious heart rhythm problems in patients with COVID-19 treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, often in combination with azithromycin and other QT prolonging medicines."
The FDA stated that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19. Still, they are allowed in clinical trials for COVID-19, such as the one in South Dakota.
South Dakota's secretary of health, Kim Malsam-Rysdon, says the warnings are not why few COVID-19 victims have joined the trial.
"I think the numbers are low because we don't have that many people impacted by COVID, which is a great problem to have," Malsam-Rysdon said.
The clinical trial includes in- and outpatients throughout South Dakota and patients in other states where Sanford operates. It is primarily geared toward people who are hospitalized. In South Dakota Wednesday, just 72 people were in the hospital due to the coronavirus.