(NY DAILY NEWS) — Last week, President Trump told reporters that a “very powerful” drug was approved to treat coronavirus. But health officials are warning that it could be deadly.
The drug in question, chloroquine, is typically used to treat malaria, and contrary to Trump’s proclamation, it has not been approved by the FDA to treat COVID-19.
However, a Phoenix man and his wife self-medicated with chloroquine as a precaution against coronavirus and, according to Arizona’s Banner Health, the treatment killed the man and hospitalized his wife in critical condition.
The hospital is now warning others not to try the same thing.
“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.”
It’s crucial that people with coronavirus are aware of the dangers surrounding chloroquine, because Trump’s enthusiastic and incorrect endorsement of the drug caused a surge in interest worldwide.
“It’s been around for a long time, so we know that if it—if things don’t go as planned, it’s not going to kill anybody,” Trump said, erroneously.
After his talk with reporters, the FDA had to release a statement correcting the record, noting that they’re still investigating whether or not chloroquine could be a suitable treatment option for coronavirus.
“There are no FDA-approved therapeutics or drugs to treat, cure or prevent COVID-19,” the agency said.