Days after news of a potential COVID-19 treatment involving an anti-malarial drug called chloroquine began circulating, Banner Health, a healthcare company that operates hospitals and clinics around the US, has warned the public against DIY health treatments. According to the organization, one person has died and another is in critical condition after consuming the substance.
A study published earlier this month indicates that the anti-malarial drug chloroquine, namely its derivative hydroxychloroquine, may be a potential treatment for cases of COVID-19. However, the drug has not been tested as a treatment for the infectious respiratory disease at this time and it is unclear whether it would be safe to administer at the doses necessary to treat the condition.
However, many people scrambled to start buying the substance, which has primarily been made available on the market in the form of a fish tank cleaning additive called chloroquine phosphate. Needless to say, this substance is not sold for human consumption, but that hasn’t stopped listing from appearing on eBay and other online sites.
A number of places have reported issues with people needing treatment after taking chloroquine phosphate in an effort to self-treat COVID-19 and now Banner Health is among them. According to an announcement from the company on Monday, a couple in their 60s took the substance and then required hospitalization within half an hour.
Tragically, the man has passed away and his wife is described as in critical condition. Medical Director of the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center Dr. Daniel Brooks said, ‘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.’
Brooks points out that among other things, it would be a very big issue if emergency rooms were to flood with people who have attempted to self-treat or prevent COVID-19 using unproven methods. The majority of people who contract this virus will only need to self-isolate. Beyond that, Brooks says that Banner Health is ‘strongly urging’ doctors against prescribing chloroquine to patients who haven’t been hospitalized.