(CNN) A new study found that the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine helped patients better survive in the hospital.
As you may know, hydroxychloroquine is a drug originally developed and used since 1955 to treat and prevent malaria.
The drug has been used recently to successfully treat COVID-19 and has come under heavy fire by some in the media.
However, a team at Henry Ford Health System in Southeast Michigan said Thursday its study of 2,541 hospitalized patients found that those given hydroxychloroquine were much less likely to die.
Dr. Marcus Zervos, division head of infectious disease for Henry Ford Health System said 26% of those NOT given hydroxychloroquine died while many of those treated with hydroxychloroquine did not die.
Zervos said hydroxychloroquine can help interfere with the virus directly and also reduces inflammation.
The team looked back at everyone treated in the hospital system since the first patient in March and showed their findings in a report published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.
"It's important to note that in the right settings, this potentially could be a lifesaver for patients," Dr. Steven Kalkanis, CEO of the Henry Ford Medical Group, said at the news conference.
President Donald Trump touted the drug heavily because of early evidence that it worked but many in the media and medical field were quick to attack stating patients were more likely to suffer cardiac side effects.
However, some of those studies were RETRACTED because they could not provide the evidence needed.
click here for the Washington Post article of the retractions
The Lancet medical journal also RETRACTED the article.
Many in the medical and scientific community said that those studies were "rushed" and did not have clinical evidence and were only "observational"
The Henry Ford team also monitored patients carefully for heart problems, Kalkanis said.
"The combination of hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin was reserved for selected patients with severe COVID-19 and with minimal cardiac risk factors," the team wrote.
The Henry Ford team stated "Our results do differ from some other studies," Zervos told a news conference. "What we think was important in ours ... is that patients were treated early.
For hydroxychloroquine to have a benefit, it needs to begin before the patients begin to suffer some of the severe immune reactions that patients can have with Covid," he added.
The Henry Ford team wrote that 82% of their patients received hydroxychloroquine within the first 24 hours of admission, and 91% within the first 48 hours of admission.
Kalkanis said that their findings do not necessarily contradict those of earlier studies. "We also want to make the point that just because our results differ from some others that may have been published, it doesn't make those studies wrong or definitely a conflict. What it simply means is that by looking at the nuanced data of which patients actually benefited and when, we might be able to further unlock the code of how this disease works," he said.
"We feel ... that these are critically important results to add to the mix of how we move forward if there's a second surge, and in relevant other parts of the world. Now we can help people combat this disease and to reduce the mortality rate."
Peter Navarro, the White House trade adviser, said the study shows hydroxychloroquine works if given early enough.
"This is a big deal," he told CNN. "This medicine can literally save tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of American lives and maybe millions of people worldwide."
Please note that the above information is not intended as medical advice. Consult with your physician before taking any medicine.