An elderly man has died and his wife is in critical condition after the couple took chloroquine phosphate, a drug President Donald Trump touted as a treatment for COVID-19
Chloroquine phosphate is an additive used to clean fish tanks. It is also an anti-malaria drug which was banned in Nigeria years back.
It has been promoted by President Donald Trump as a possible treatment for COVID-19, but health officials say it hasn’t been tested properly.
Banner Health said Monday that the couple in their 60s got sick within half an hour of ingesting the chloroquine phosphate. The man couldn’t be resuscitated when he arrived at a hospital, but the woman was able to throw up much of the chemical, Banner said.
It’s unclear if the Phoenix-area couple took it specifically because of COVID-19, but now Banner Health is warning everyone to avoid self-medicating.
“Given the uncertainty around COVID-19, we understand that people are trying to find new ways to prevent or treat this virus, but self-medicating is not the way to do so,” said Dr. Daniel Brooks, Banner Poison and Drug Information Center medical director.
“The last thing that we want right now is to inundate our emergency departments with patients who believe they found a vague and risky solution that could potentially jeopardize their health.”
At a news conference last week, Trump falsely stated that the Food and Drug Administration had just approved the use of an anti-malaria medication called chloroquine to treat patients infected with coronavirus.
Even after the FDA chief clarified that the drug still needs to be tested for that use, Trump overstated the drug’s potential upside in containing the virus.
Chloroquine is obtained by prescription, and Banner Health is now urging medical providers against prescribing it to people who aren’t hospitalized.