CDC coronavirus

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning people about the danger of using non-pharmaceutical chloroquine phosphate to prevent or treat COVID-19.

The agency put out a health advisory Saturday, explaining that non-pharmaceutical chloroquine phosphate is a chemical used in home aquariums.

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"Clinicians should advise patients and the public that chloroquine, and the related compound hydroxychloroquine, should be used only under the supervision of a healthcare provider as prescribed medications," the advisory reads.

Earlier this week, a Phoenix man died and his wife was hospitalized after self-medicating. The couple, both of whom are in their 60s, got sick within about 30 minutes of ingesting chloroquine phosphate. The aquarium additive is not intended for human consumption.

"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," Dr. Daniel Brooks, the medical director of the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center, said on Monday. "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."

Pharmaceutical chloroquine phosphate and hydroxycholoroquine, which are available by prescription, are anti-malarial drugs. They also are used in combination with other medications to treat some autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, according to the CDC.

While there have been some anecdotal reports of success in using chloroquine and hydroxycholoroquine to treat COVID-19, which the president has mentioned, the Food and Drug Administration has not approved them for use for COVID-19 patients.

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"At this time, there are no routinely available pharmaceutical products that are FDA-approved for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19," explains the CDC health advisory. "Currently, these medications are being studied and evaluated as treatment for COVID-19; however, their efficacy to either prevent or treat this infection are unknown."

The CDC laid out some of the potential side effects of chloroquine phosphate, explaining that it has a "narrow therapeutic index" and that "it can be toxic at levels not much higher than those used for treatment." The dangers include cardiac rhythm disturbance, a dangerously low level of potassium in the blood, cardiovascular collapse, seizures, coma, and death, according to the CDC.

As part of its health advisory, the CDC issued three recommendations for the public.

1. Do not ingest aquarium use products or any other chemicals that contain chloroquine phosphate. These chemicals are not intended for human consumption and can lead to serious health consequences, including death.

2. Medications like chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate should be taken only when prescribed by and under the supervision of your healthcare provider and always according to the instructions provided.

3. Seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing any unexpected symptoms after taking chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine by contacting your healthcare provider or your poison center (1-800-222-1222).

On Monday, Banner Health put out a reminder for patients experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

"Most patients who become infected with COVID-19 will only require symptomatic care and self-isolation to prevent the risk of infecting others," explains a news release Banner Health put out after the Phoenix man died and his wife got sick. "Check first with a primary care physician. The routine use of specific treatments, including medications described as ‘anti-COVID-19’, is not recommended for non-hospitalized patients, including the anti-malarial drug chloroquine."

 

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