A man reportedly died after ingesting a substance used to clean fish tanks that contains a form of chloroquine, a drug that President Donald Trump has claimed repeatedly could be a “game changer” in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
The man’s wife also is in critical condition, the health care system Banner Health said in a statement, adding, “Within thirty minutes of ingestion, the couple experienced immediate effects requiring admittance to a nearby Banner Health hospital.”
The additive ingested had the same active ingredient as the prescription drug chloroquine used to prevent and treat malaria, but it’s formulated differently, according to Dr. Daniel Brooks, Banner Poison and Drug Information Center medical director.
Trump has been publicly touting the prescription form of chloroquine in the fight against novel coronavirus despite repeated warnings from health officials that any suggestion that it works is purely anecdotal.
“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 said in a statement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises on its website that “there are no US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs specifically for the treatment of patients with COVID-19,” and a vaccine is estimated to remain at least a year away.
The CDC notes that a study in China reported that COVID-19 patients treated with chloroquine “had clinical and virologic benefit versus a comparison group, and chloroquine was added as a recommended antiviral for treatment of COVID-19 in China.”