French medical bodies call for punishment of researcher Didier Raoult for unauthorized clinical trial on hydroxychloroquine
French medical bodies have called on authorities to take action against researcher Didier Raoult for conducting « the largest ‘unauthorized’ clinical trial ever seen » on the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19. Raoult, the former head of the IHU Mediterranee research hospital, and his subordinates prescribed medications such as hydroxychloroquine, zinc, ivermectin, and azithromycin to Covid-19 patients without a solid pharmacological basis and lacking any proof of their effectiveness. The drugs continued to be prescribed « for more than a year after their ineffectiveness had been absolutely demonstrated, » according to a group of 16 research bodies.
Raoult’s endorsement of hydroxychloroquine helped promote the drug in the early days of the pandemic, feeding into its promotion by former US President Donald Trump and Brazil’s then-leader Jair Bolsonaro. In April, France’s ANSM medications authority said that treatment with hydroxychloroquine « exposes patients to potential side effects that can be serious. » The doctors’ bodies said Sunday that authorities should take « measures appropriate to the infractions » for the sake of patient safety and « the credibility of French medical research. »
Raoult retired as a professor in summer 2021 and was replaced at the IHU Mediterrannee last August. A spokesman said he remained an emeritus professor and was still supervising two doctoral students who began work on their theses before he left. At the IHU itself, all clinical trials involving humans have been suspended since Raoult’s replacement Pierre-Edouard Fournier took over. The hospital told AFP it was waiting for the ANSM drug regulator’s word before resuming the trials.
French authorities have opened a probe into fraud and unwarranted human testing at the IHU Mediterranee, based in the southern port city of Marseille. The government has also requested an investigation into the IHU’s conduct under Raoult’s management following a harsh report from inspectors. Health Minister Francois Braun told broadcaster RTL on Sunday that he would not comment on an open investigation, but confirmed that the latest study would be included in the probe’s remit.
The medical bodies have called for authorities to take action against Raoult for the sake of patient safety and the credibility of French medical research. The use of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 has been widely discredited, and the doctors’ bodies have criticized Raoult for continuing to prescribe the drug despite its ineffectiveness. The investigation into the IHU Mediterranee’s conduct under Raoult’s management is ongoing, and the hospital has suspended all clinical trials involving humans until further notice.