Arizona deaths prompt warning against self-medication

An Arizona man has died and his wife was in critical condition Monday after the couple took chloroquine phosphate, an additive used to clean fish tanks that is also found in an anti-malaria medication that has been touted by President Donald Trump as a treatment for COVID-19.

An Arizona man has died and his wife was in critical condition Monday after the couple took chloroquine phosphate, an additive used to clean fish tanks that is also found in an anti-malaria medication that has been touted by President Donald Trump as a treatment for COVID-19. The difference between the fish tank cleaning additive that the couple ingested and the drug used to treat malaria is in the way they are formulated. The couple in their 60s got sick within 30 minutes of ingesting the additive. The man could not be resuscitated when he arrived at a hospital, but the woman was able to vomit up much of the chemical. Banner Health, a health system based in Phoenix, is warning against self-medicating. "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 Daniel Brooks, MD, 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." Trump last week falsely stated that FDA had just approved the use of an anti-malaria medication called chloroquine to treat patients infected with coronavirus. Even after FDA clarified that the drug still needs to be tested for that use, Trump overstated the drug's potential upside in containing the virus. Banner Health is now urging medical providers against prescribing chloroquine to people who are not hospitalized.