Duke to Expedite Study of COVID-19 Prevention in Healthcare Workers

By Contract Pharma Staff | 04.03.20

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute has funded up to $50 million to evaluate hydroxychloroquine as a preventive drug for the novel coronavirus

A new rapid-response study designed and led by the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI) seeks to engage healthcare workers across the nation to understand the impact of COVID-19 on their health and to evaluate whether hydroxychloroquine can prevent COVID-19 infections in healthcare workers at high risk of contracting this novel coronavirus.
The launch of the Healthcare Worker Exposure Response and Outcomes (HERO) research program was unveiled by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), whose Board of Governors approved up to $50 million to support the program. The program will engage the PCORI-funded PCORnet, the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network, which is an established health research network involving more than 850,000 clinicians and hundreds of health systems across the U.S. The study results will be shared widely with the healthcare community.
“Healthcare workers on the front lines are critical to the pandemic response. To address their needs, we need to do rapid-cycle research and clinical trials,” said the DCRI’s Adrian Hernandez, professor of medicine in cardiology, who initiated the program and is serving as the administrative principal investigator. “Although there has been discussion about hydroxychloroquine as a potential prevention for COVID-19, we are lacking the data on safety and efficacy of this therapy. By conducting this study with healthcare workers, we are working directly with those who understand the importance of quickly getting answers into the hands of those on the front line.”
The HERO program will initially consist of two parts, a national registry and a randomized clinical trial. The registry will be led by the DCRI’s Emily O’Brien, assistant professor in Duke’s Department of Population Health Sciences, and will seek to rapidly identify and enroll a large community of healthcare workers at high risk for COVID-19 infection. Recruitment for the registry is expected to begin within the next two weeks. The registry will not only support recruitment into the trial, but will enable future trials as well, and seek to understand the wellbeing of healthcare workers on issues such as workforce stress, burnout, and other outcomes.
The second part, the randomized clinical trial HERO-HCQ, will be led by the DCRI’s Susanna Naggie, associate professor of medicine at Duke. The trial will launch later in April and will identify approximately 15,000 healthcare workers from the registry to participate. The trial will randomize participants to either one month of hydroxychloroquine or one month of placebo and will examine whether hydroxychloroquine is effective in decreasing the rate of COVID-19 infection. In addition to the benefits and risks of using hydroxychloroquine, the study also will explore how well the drug can prevent healthcare workers from unintentionally spreading the virus to others.