New Delhi: At a time when India is exporting low-cost anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to other countries as this drug is being found effective in the treatment of Covid-19, several side effects of this medicine are being reported. Some health care workers in India who self-medicated themselves with anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine have shown side effects like abdominal pain, nausea and hypoglycemia among others, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has said. Also Read - PM Modi Begins His Address to Nation | LIVE Updates

Head of Epidemiology and Communicable diseases at ICMR Raman R Gangakhedkar said the ICMR has launched a study on side effects of HCQ using data of some health care workers who had started taking it. Also Read - How to Know if You Are an Asymptomatic COVID-19 Patient?

“The average age of such health workers…is 35 years. The most visible side effect was that of abdominal pain which was reported in ten per cent of all those who consumed the medication while nausea-like symptoms were reported in 6 per cent. Also Read - Prince Narula, Yuvika Chaudhary Diagnosed With COVID-19 Before Contracting Dengue

“A fewer proportion — around 1.3 per cent — had hypoglycaemia,” Gangakhedkar said.

He said that the study so far has revealed that 22 per cent of these health care workers who consumed HCQ had existing co-morbidities like diabetes or blood pressure problems or vascular-related ailments or respiratory illnesses and they started taking the drug out of fear of contracting the disease.

“What has come to fore is that despite they being health care workers, 14 per cent of them did not even get their ECG checked before having it,” Gangakhedkar said.

He further informed that AIIMS is conducting studies on assessing both prophylactic and therapeutic impact of HCQ on COVID-19, i.e. the ability of the drug for both prevention and healing.

“We need to understand that at many places health care workers out of fear are trying to take this medicine and in some places, the consumption is not that high so it impacts the study design and collection of data. We are facing difficulty in finding a homogenous population,” the scientist said.

He underlined that even health care workers should consume the drug after proper consultation with doctors.

Gangakhedkar further said that the ICMR has also initiated a separate study to find out the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine as preventive medicine for COVID-19 in which around 480 patients will be enrolled and studied for eight weeks.

The ICMR has earlier recommended the use of the drug as a preventive medication to health care workers and household contacts looking after a positive case. Besides, the Union Health Ministry has also recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine in combination with Azithromycin on those severely suffering from COVID-19 who require ICU management.

“But then one should take it only if prescribed by a physician as the drug has side effects,” the official had said.

(With Agency Inputs)