Rheum Round-up: Interview—Expert Weighs In on Trump Taking Hydroxychloroquine, Biologics and Cancer, and more

Here are the top stories recently covered by DocWire News in the Rheumatology section. In this edition, read about President Donald Trump’s recent admission that he’s taking the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine to prevent COVID-19, as well as what an expert shared with DocWire News, the risk of melanoma in patients taking biologics, and preoperative physical function’s effect on racial disparities postoperatively in total knee arthroplasty.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had some thoughts on President Donald Trump’s admission that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine to protect himself from COVID-19. “A lot of good things have come out about the hydroxy, a lot of good things have come out. You’d be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the frontline workers, before you catch it. The frontline workers, many, many are taking it. I happen to be taking it. I happen to be taking it,” the president confirmed. He said he initiated it “a couple of weeks ago.” When asked what her reaction was to Trump’s hydroxychloroquine declaration, Pelosi responded, “As far as the president is concerned, he’s our president, and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientist[s], especially in his age group, and his, shall we say, weight group … ‘morbidly obese,’ they say. So I think it’s not a good idea.” (Standing at 6’3”, Trump reportedly weighs 243 pounds, placing his body mass index at around 30.3 kg/m2, which would place him in the “obese” category, but not “morbidly obese.”)

The Trump-hydroxychloroquine news sparked responses—and criticism—from politicians, doctors, news correspondents, and more, with everyone trying to answer the question: what does science say about the president’s decision? DocWire News interviewed Leann Silhan, MD, to discuss the evidence regarding hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19. When asked about patients taking the drug for COVID-19 prevention, Dr. Silhan said, “Only in the setting of a clinical trial. I agree with guidelines issued by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, April 11, 2020, and National Institutes of Health, updated May 12, 2020, that hydroxychloroquine should be taken only in the context of a clinical trial.”

Patients with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease are often placed on biologic therapies for treatment. Questions have been asked about whether long-term biologic treatment, versus conventional systemic therapy treatment, could increase the risk for melanoma. A new systematic review and meta-analysis sought to identify the risk and concluded that biologics may—or may not—increase this risk.

Previous research has established racial/ethnic disparities in total knee arthroplasty (TKA), but data are less conclusive about racial/ethnic disparities in outcomes following surgery. Some studies have found that, after joint arthroplasty, racial/ethnic minorities have lower satisfaction, higher postoperative pain, more residual joint stiffness, and poorer physical function. Researchers recently examined whether preoperative physical function was associated with functional outcomes in TKA among women.