Military hospital held illegal proxalutamide trials on Covid-19 patients

HBMPA military hospital in Porto Alegre. Photo: Brigada Militar
HBMPA military hospital in Porto Alegre. Photo: Brigada Militar

The HBMPA military hospital in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre reportedly administered androgen receptor antagonist proxalutamide to roughly 50 Covid-19 patients in March of this year, despite a lack of regulatory approval for the study.

The information was revealed by news website Matinal, which spoke to several HBMPA patients and doctors.

Proxalutamide is an under-development drug manufactured by Chinese firm Kintor Pharmaceutical, initially designed to treat prostate and breast cancer. It works by inhibiting the effects of hormones such as testosterone, and there is a contested hypothesis that it may be effective in slowing down the progress of Covid-19 infections. Preliminary studies on other antiandrogens have shown no meaningful effect of the drugs in treating Covid-19.

Brazilian health regulator Anvisa issued a permit for proxalutamide to be imported to Brazil and used in clinical trials with volunteers from the states of Roraima and São Paulo. But the Porto Alegre military hospital did not have any such authorization, the report says.

Matinal spoke to one military police officer who was included in the informal trial, who was admitted to the HBMPA hospital in early March with a severe case of Covid-19. The patient says that, upon hospitalization, she was taken to one side and asked to take part in a study with a new “off-label” drug, the name of which was not mentioned.

In June, Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro lauded proxalutamide as the “new chloroquine” — a reference to the antimalarial drug the president touted as a “potential miracle cure” for Covid-19, despite a dearth of scientific evidence as to its efficacy.