ICMR allows use of HCQ among healthcare workers in containment zones, non-COVID hospitals

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

ICMR allows use of HCQ among healthcare workers in containment zones, non-COVID hospitals

New Delhi: As per a fresh guideline issued by the ICMR, it has allowed the usage of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as a preventive medication for healthcare and other front line workers deployed in non-COVID and COVID areas, respectively.

Issuing a statement to this affect, it informed that the use of HCQ can be expanded to all healthcare workers in containment zones; healthcare workers in non-COVID hospitals; the front-line workers; for police, security forces working in containment areas and household contacts of confirmed cases.

The review team comprised representatives from AIIMS, ICMR, NCDC, NDMA, WHO and experts drawn from Central Government hospitals under the Chairmanship of DGHS.

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 further added.

The advisory also issued a list of condsiderations to be noted, mentioned below: 

1) The drug has to be given under strict medical supervision with an informed consent.
2) The drug 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. Front line workers should use PPEs in accordance with the guidelines issued by this Ministry or by their respective organization.
5) They should be advised to consult their physician (within their hospital/surveillance team/security organization) for any adverse event or potential drug interaction before initiation of medication. The prophylactic use of HCQ to be coupled with the pharmacovigilance for adverse drug reactions through self-reporting using the Pharmacovigilance Program of India (PvPI) helpline/app.
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. Apart from the symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, breathing difficulty), if the person on chemoprophylaxis
develops any other symptoms, he should immediately seek medical treatment from the prescribing medical practitioner.
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. Findings from these studies and other new evidence will guide any change further in the recommendation.
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 (wherever applicable).

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

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