WARNING: Health agencies warn coronavirus patients not to self-medicate with chloroquine as Arizona man dies after taking a form of chloroquine used to clean aquarium
As the news about anti-malaria drugs chloroquine and hydrochloroquine spreads all over the internet, coronavirus patients are doing everything they can to stay alive. Some went as far as self-medicating using aquarium cleaner containing chloroquine phosphate.
According to hospital system Banner Health, A Phoenix-area man is dead and his wife is under critical care after the two took chloroquine phosphate in an apparent attempt to self-medicate for the novel coronavirus.
The powerful additive, which is not exactly the same as the ones prescribed by the doctors, is also commonly found in fish tank cleaner, according to Arizona’s Banner Health hospital, where the man was treated before his untimely death.
It does not appear they took the pharmaceutical version of the drug, but rather “an additive commonly used at aquariums to clean fish tanks,” Banner Health said in a statement.
“Given the uncertainty around Covid-19, we understand that people are trying to find new ways to prevent or treat this virus,” Dr. Daniel Brooks, medical director of the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center, said in the statement. “But self-medicating is not the way to do so.”
According to a study published seven years ago in Advanced Aquarist, scientists described three forms of chloroquine as “a ‘new’ drug for treating fish diseases” and detailed its effectiveness in fighting off certain parasites in saltwater aquariums. The chloroquine are “ONLY in the treatment and maintenance of ornamental fish. … and are not meant for human or any other use.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chloroquine phosphate, or simply chloroquine, along with its analog hydrochloroquine (brand name Plaquenil), are anti-parasite, anti-inflammatory drugs used to prevent or treat parasitic infections, namely malaria, as well as autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
The use of choloroquine without doctor’s prescription is not limited to COVID-19 patients in the United States. Fatal overdoses have also been recently documented in African country of Nigeria. On March 20, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control tweeted: “@WHO has NOT approved the use of chloroquine for #COVID19 management.Scientists are working hard to confirm the safety of several drugs for this disease. Please DO NOT engage in self-medication. This will cause harm and can lead to death.”
— NCDC (@NCDCgov) March 20, 2020