CDC warns about improper chloroquine use

March 31, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that chloroquine phosphate used without a prescription and healthcare provider supervision can cause serious health problems, including death.

In a health advisory network notice, the CDC said clinicians and public health officials should discourage the public from misusing nonpharmaceutical chloroquine phosphate, a chemical used in home aquariums, and that chloroquine and related hydrochloroquine should be used only under the supervision of a healthcare provider as prescribed medications.

The CDC said it is aware of two people who took the aquarium cleaner after seeing information about its medical use on television. One died and the other is critically ill. The CDC said unconfirmed media reports have said the aquarium chemical may be out of stock because of increased demand. It added that the drugs are approved to treat conditions such as malaria and lupus and are being studied in clinical trials for COVID-19 treatment, but so far, efficacy isn't known.

When used at higher-than-recommended doses, the drugs can lead to serious side effects, including heart problems and death. President Trump has voiced hope that malaria drugs such as chloroquine are useful for treating COVID-19, but so far reports on benefits have anecdotal or from small uncontrolled trials.

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