A man died after ingesting an additive used to clean fish tanks — the pharmaceutical drug version of which has been touted by President Trump as a potential coronavirus cure.
Within 30 minutes of taking chloroquine phosphate, the man in his 60s experienced “immediate effects” and had to be admitted to a nearby Banner Health hospital, the medical system in Arizona said in a press release Monday.
His wife, also in her 60s, is in critical condition after taking the additive, which is used in aquariums to kill some organisms, like algae, that may harm fish.
Prices of the product on eBay skyrocketed after some studies found that the pharmaceutical version, the anti-malarial drug chloroquine, and a derivative of it called hydroxychloroquine, were effective in killing the virus in laboratory experiments.
Trump said last week the drug would soon begin to be distributed to treat some coronavirus patients. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn clarified that the drug would be made available as part of a clinical trial.
Officials warned people not to take the drugs to treat coronavirus symptoms unless it has been specifically prescribed by their doctor.
“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,” said Dr. Daniel Brooks, medical director of the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center.
Chloroquine is especially not recommended for use by non-hospitalized patients.
“We are strongly urging the medical community to not prescribe this medication to any non-hospitalized patients,” Brooks said.
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