South Dakota to begin clinical trial of antimalarial drug aimed at COVID-19

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Governor Kristi Noem announced Monday morning a statewide clinical trial of an antimalarial drug aimed to treat and prevent COVID-19.

This is “the first-ever statewide clinical trial happening in the U.S. to deal with COVID-19 in the future,” said Noem in a press conference at Sanford Health Monday morning.

Sanford Health in Sioux Falls will lead the trial of hydroxychloroquine to begin with 2,000 outpatient individuals exposed to COVID-19. Noem says 100,000 doses were received over the weekend from the Strategic National Stockpile.

Hydroxychloroquine is a therapeutic drug “that is under investigation in clinical trials for treatment of patients with mild, moderate and severe COVID-19,” says a news release from Sanford Health. Researchers say the drug has the potential to prevent the virus from entering a cell or slow the replication process of the virus in the human body.

“Our goal is to meaningfully advance the science around COVID-19 so physicians can be better prepared to respond to and treat this novel virus in the future, especially for our populations most at-risk,” said Dr. Allison Suttle, chief medical officer for Sanford Health.

Suttle says there are two components to the trial – one for inpatient or outpatients who have tested positive for the coronavirus and one that’s a randomized placebo-controlled research study. The latter portion will target healthcare workers and high-risk patients who have been exposed to the coronavirus to test the drug’s ability to prevent or minimize symptoms. She says the doses are similar to a Z-Pak and stays in the body for 30 to 50 days.

If a person tests positive for COVID-19, Suttle says the next step is a conversation between the patient and their doctor to determine if the criteria for participation are met. “All individuals who meet the study criteria will provide voluntary informed consent before participating and will be screened to make sure they do not have medical conditions that would make hydroxychloroquine less safe for them,” reads the news release.

The cost of the trial will not fall on participants or their insurance providers. Noem says the state has agreed to assist financially in the study but did not specify a dollar amount. She added federal COVID-19 response funding could be involved.

Dr. Brad Archer, the chief medical officer with Monument Health, says the health system will release more information later this week detailing how to get involved through Monument.

Noem says the Indian Health Service and Veteran’s Affairs healthcare systems are in communication with the state on any involvement in the study.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local News, South Dakota News