Dakota News Now reports that South Dakota will be the first state in the country to test the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19.

In her Monday briefing, Gov. Kristi Noem announced that South Dakota is working with health care providers in the state to conduct a state-wide clinical trial on hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria.

The use of the drug as a potential treatment for COVID-19 has sparked a political debate.  President Donald Trump has endorsed the drug, but opponents say the effectiveness or safety of the drug has yet to be determined.

The state's two largest health care providers, Sanford Health and Avera Health are supporting this clinical trial.

Sanford Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allison Suttle called the trial an "excellent opportunity."

Suttle told Dakota News Now that patients who test positive for COVID-19 can talk with their health care provider about taking part in the trial. There will be no extra cost to the patient.

Suttle said large clinical trials take up to five years, but she said the state could start seeing preliminary results from the trial soon after patients begin getting the treatment.

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