Rutgers Cancer Institute Offers Clinical Trial Examining Potential Treatment for COVID-19

Combination of malaria drug and antibiotic being explored

New Brunswick, N.J., April 3, 2020 – Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, is offering a clinical trial as a potential treatment for patients diagnosed with the coronavirus (COVID-19). The trial, which is being offered at Rutgers Cancer Institute, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, Morristown Medical Center, Overlook Medical Center, Monmouth Medical Center, and University Hospital in Newark, is not limited to cancer patients.

There is no standard antiviral therapy approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of people with COVID-19.  At present clinical management includes infection prevention, control measures and supportive care.  Researchers at Rutgers Cancer Institute are exploring if azithromycin combined with hydroxychloroquine is better than hydroxychloroquine alone for treatment of patients with COVID-19.  Azithromycin is approved by the FDA for the treatment of infections.  Hydroxychloroquine is approved by the FDA for the treatment of malaria and auto-immune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

“While some practitioners across the state have been offering this type of treatment for some individualized cases, it is imperative that a controlled clinical trial with a large patient population take place in order to ensure the integrity of the results being gathered. As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey has the infrastructure and expertise to carry out this clinical trial,” notes Rutgers Cancer Institute Director Steven K. Libutti, MD, FACS, who is also senior vice president, oncology services, RWJBarnabas Health and vice chancellor, cancer programs, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences.

Patients aged 18 and older who are diagnosed with COVID-19 and meet other criteria may be eligible to participate. Prior to being accepted into the clinical trial, participants are required to undergo a number of tests including bloodwork and a physical exam. 

Eligible participants will be assigned randomly (by chance) into three groups: 1) azithromycin and hydroxychloroquine; 2) hydroxychloroquine alone; or 3) supportive care for 6 days followed by hydroxychloroquine.  Treatment will continue for 10 days. Once treatment is completed, participants will be followed monthly for six months to monitor for return of symptoms.

For information on how to take part in this clinical trial, individuals should call Rutgers Cancer Institute’s Office of Human Research Services at 732-235-7356 or email


About Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

As New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rutgers Cancer Institute, along with its partner RWJBarnabas Health, offers the most advanced cancer treatment options including bone marrow transplantation, proton therapy, CAR T-cell therapy and complex robotic surgery.  Along with clinical trials and novel therapeutics such as precision medicine and immunotherapy – many of which are not widely available – patients have access to these cutting-edge therapies at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey at University Hospital in Newark, as well as through RWJBarnabas Health facilities.

Along with world-class treatment, which is often fueled by on-site research conducted in Rutgers Cancer Institute laboratories, patients and their families also can seek cancer preventative services and education resources throughout the Rutgers Cancer Institute and RWJBarnabas Health footprint statewide. To make a tax-deductible gift to support the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, call 848-932-8013 or visit




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