Mayor Duggan, Henry Ford Health System Announce Clinical Trials for First Responders to Combat COVID-19

Thursday, Mayor Duggan along with Henry Ford Health System announced a groundbreaking clinical trial to limit the spread of COVID-19. Approximately 3,000 first responders and health care workers across Southeastern Michigan will have the opportunity to participate in a randomized controlled study designed to prevent those working on the front lines against coronavirus from contracting it.

The unprecedented study is centered around hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug also used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Scientists believe it could also possibly prevent COVID-19.

“This is going to be the first major, definitive study in healthcare workers and first responders of hydroxychloroquine as a preventative medication.There has been a lot of talk about this drug, but only a small, non-blinded study in Europe,” says Henry Ford Health System’s Dr. William W. O’Neill.

The study organizer adds, “We are going to change that in Metro Detroit and produce a scientific answer to the question: Does it work?”

The proposed study, which still awaits FDA approval, will require first responder volunteers to submit a blood sample and take a unidentified pill for 8 weeks. The pill will either be a placebo or contain hydroxychloroquine. The dosage will be weekly or daily.

Henry Ford Health Systems will monitor the volunteers over the course of the 8 weeks. They will then be contacted weekly and in person at week 4 and week 8 of the study to see if they are exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19, including dry cough, fever or breathing issues, as well as any medication side effects. At eight weeks, they will be checked again for symptoms, medication side effects, and have blood drawn. Results will be compared among the three groups to see if the medication had any effect.

Mayor Duggan has been in constant contact with the commissioner of the FDA, Dr. Stephen Hahn since the idea of the medical trial was put into motion 10 days ago. Duggan notes that this is one of the fastest conceived medical trials ever and applauds Henry Ford Health Systems and the FDA.

“The speed at which they are moving is remarkable.”

Mayor Duggan along with Henry Ford Health Systems are optimistic about receiving FDA approval soon and hope to begin enlisting volunteers for the study no later than April 7.

If results indicate hydroxychloroquine works as a preventative drug, it could possibly be used to treat COVID-19 patients as well.The drug was specially procured for this study and will not impact the supply for people who already take the medication for other conditions.

Henry Ford Health System Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer, Dr. Adnan Munkarah, says Detroit is perfect for the first large scale US study of the drug.

“Metro Detroit has a history of stepping up when things get tough.”

For further updates, including study volunteer information once its made available, visit 

Mayor Duggan also announced the launch of 15-minute COVID-19 testing for Detroit first responders and front line workers beginning today.


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