A man has died and his wife is in critical condition after the American couple apparently ingested chloroquine phosphate after President Trump touted the anti-malaria drug chloroquine as a possible cure for the coronavirus (COVID-19) without a doctor’s prescription, reports The Hill.
Healthcare company Banner Health made the announcement in a statement on Monday that also urged Americans against taking drugs for which they are not prescribed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“A man has died and his wife is under critical care after the couple, both in their 60s, ingested chloroquine phosphate, an additive commonly used at aquariums to clean fish tanks. Within thirty minutes of ingestion, the couple experienced immediate effects requiring admittance to a nearby Banner Health hospital,” the statement read.
“Most patients who become infected with COVID-19 will only require symptomatic care and self-isolation to prevent the risk of infecting others. Check first with a primary care physician. The routine use of specific treatments, including medications described as ‘anti-COVID-19’, is not recommended for non-hospitalized patients, including the anti-malarial drug chloroquine,” the statement continued.
It was unclear from Banner Health’s statement whether the couple had received confirmed diagnoses of coronavirus before ingesting the substance.
Trump tweeted about the use of chloroquine as an effective treatment for severe coronavirus cases over the weekend, urging Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials to put it in use “immediately.”
“HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. The FDA has moved mountains – Thank You! Hopefully they will BOTH (H works better with A, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents) be put in use IMMEDIATELY. PEOPLE ARE DYING, MOVE FAST, and GOD BLESS EVERYONE!” he tweeted.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 21, 2020
Last week, Trump claimed at a White House briefing the Food and Drug Administration had approved the “very powerful” drug chloroquine to treat COVID-19.
A short time later, the FDA issued a statement contradicting that claim saying the medication was not approved for use against the coronavirus. The FDA said studies are underway to test its effectiveness against COVID-19.
Chloroquine shows encouraging early results as a possible treatment for Coronavirus—and we will keep cutting red tape to help rapid development of therapeutics. pic.twitter.com/UyoUQFVpO1
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) March 19, 2020
The Wall Street Journal reported that health officials across the world are issuing warnings over the use of antimalarial drugs after Trump’s comments sparked panic-buying and overdoses.
“In recent days, thousands of consumers across Africa and South Asia rushed to stockpile chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, drugs that are usually used to combat malaria, vacuuming up supplies in cities in the developing world, sending prices skyrocketing and prompting panicked warnings from local authorities,” the Journal reports. “In the U.S. and some other developed countries, meantime, some doctors have started to prescribe the drugs against the coronavirus, sparking heated ethical debates because their efficacy has yet to be demonstrated in full-scale clinical studies.”