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As officials begin clinical trials for several coronavirus treatments, antimalarial medications and other antibiotics are beginning to trend online, prompting concern that people may be searching their own medicine cabinet for similar ingredients. At least one report suggests a couple in Arizona turned to fish tank cleaner believing they were ingesting the antimalarial variation of chloroquine, resulting in the man’s death.
The report prompted a stern warning from Banner Health in Arizona that attempting to create COVID-19 remedies at home could inundate already-overwhelmed hospitals, and put you in grave danger. Dr. Shannon Sovndal, a board-certified doctor in both emergency medicine and emergency medical services had a similar message for those attempting to concoct their own solutions.
Even if taken at the prescribed level, chloroquine can have adverse side effects in patients, Dr. Deena Adimoolan, an internal medicine physician and endocrinologist in New York City, told Fox News.
“It is a strong medication, and should not be taken lightly,” she said. “It should only be taken if prescribed by a health care professional and you should be monitored if there is a need to take it long-term.”
Additionally, she said that it’s too early to tell whether the medication has the impact on COVID-19 that officials are hoping for.
“We need more research to prove that it is effective and we do not have enough data to support its use for prevention of COVID-19,” she said. “This medication is not approved to prevent COVID-19.”
People who do obtain the powerful drug without a prescription may also be putting themselves at risk for kidney disease, liver disease, blindness or even sudden death from abnormal heartbeat, Adimoolan said.
“This is a strong medication and should be taken seriously,” Adimoolan said. “You should only take it if prescribed by your physician. Avoid buying it off the Internet. Avoid buying it from others.”
Illegally obtaining chloroquine or Hydroxychloroquine, another drug being tested, could also lead to a shortage for patients who do need the medications, such as those with Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.
“We are seeing this drug shortage already throughout the country,” Adimoolan warned.
For those looking to stave off the virus, Adimoolan had advice that echoed Sovndal’s and includes social-distancing, handwashing, isolation when sick, and supporting your own immune system with sleep, healthy diet, and incorporating important vitamins.