On Monday, Banner Health, a nonprofit health care system based in Phoenix, Arizona, sent a strong warning to those trying to preempt a possible bout with the sometimes-fatal COVID-19: Do not self-medicate. According to a press release posted on their site, a man in his 60’s has died and his wife is in critical care because they ingested chloroquine phosphate. The news comes just days after Donald Trump touted chloroquine as an FDA-approved treatment for the illness.
(NOTE: The FDA never approved chloroquine, an antimalaria medication, to treat coronavirus. That was a lie.)
“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, in a statement. “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.”
The now-deceased Arizona man and his wife took a form of the drug that is intended to clean large fish tanks, and according to the release, needed medical care within 30 minutes of ingesting. Along with directing people not to take the treatment, Banner Health is warning the medical community not to prescribe the drug to any non-hospitalized patients.
The note of caution echoes what health officials in Nigeria are telling concerned citizens after three people overdosed on the drug following Trump’s irresponsible declaration, and many more rushed to the pharmacy to purchase. According to CNN, those three individuals are now under medical care for chloroquine poisoning.
After Trump lied to the American people during the White House briefing last week, the FDA quickly put out a statement to refute his claims. “The FDA has been working closely with other government agencies and academic centers that are investigating the use of the drug chloroquine, which is already approved for treating malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, to determine whether it can be used to treat patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 to potentially reduce the duration of symptoms, as well as viral shedding, which can help prevent the spread of disease,” the statement read. But added that there are no FDA-approved therapeutics or drugs to treat, cure or prevent COVID-19 at this time.
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