There are no drugs approved for treating COVID-19. But the President keeps talking about one.
An Arizona man has died and his wife is in serious condition after consuming fish tank cleaner in an effort to protect themselves from coronavirus.
The couple, who are in their sixties, ingested chloroquine phosphate after hearing Donald Trump tout the benefits of the medical form of chloroquine, which is used to treat malaria.
Although no drugs have been proven or approved to cure or treat COVID-19, the President has continuously been praising chloroquine as a possible answer to the pandemic.
"I saw it sitting on the back shelf and thought, 'Hey, isn't that the stuff they're talking about on TV?'" the widow told NBC news. She recognized the name having treated her koi fish with it for parasites.
Although they had no symptoms, they decided to mix 1 teaspoon of it with soda and drink it as a preventative measure.
"We were afraid of getting sick," she said. 20 minutes later, they were.
She said they began feeling dizzy and hot. "I started vomiting," she said. "My husband started developing respiratory problems and wanted to hold my hand."
After calling 911, paramedics asked her what they had consumed, but she was having a hard time talking or even standing up.
Shortly after arriving at hospital, her husband died.
"This is the most horrible day of my life," she said. "And it feels like my heart is broken and it will never mend. It's just broke, dead -- like my husband."
After the fatality, medical toxicologists at the hospital begged people not to self-medicate.
"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," said Dr. Daniel Brooks, Banner Poison and Drug Information Center medical director.
"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."
While chloroquine and the similar Hydroxychloroquine are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, they are not approved to treat the coronavirus.
Nevertheless, as recently as Monday the POTUS claimed 10,000 units of the drug was being distributed in New York to combat the virus.
"I feel good about it. That's all it is. Just a feeling,” he said last week about the anti-malaria drugs. "You know, I'm a smart guy. I feel good about it. And we're going to see. You're going to see soon enough."
According to Todd Brown, executive director of the Massachusetts Independent Pharmacists Association, Americans are now needlessly hoarding the drug, making it more difficult for people who actually need the medicine to get it.
He told NPR that doctors and dentists are even writing prescriptions for themselves and family members.
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President Trump says 10,000 units of the drug chloroquine will be distributed in New York tomorrow and the government will start clinical trials of existing drugs that may work in the fight against coronavirus https://t.co/BpF1gGeE22 pic.twitter.com/1psguLKuyW— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 23, 2020