Man Dies After Taking Chloroquine for Coronavirus

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March 24, 2020 -- An Arizona man has died and his wife is in critical condition after they took chloroquine phosphate to treat themselves for the novel coronavirus, the hospital system Banner Health says.

Chloroquine is approved in the United States to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, but President Donald Trump has promoted it as a possible treatment for COVID-19, CNN reported.

Chloroquine is also "an additive commonly used at aquariums to clean fish tanks," Banner Health said in a statement. It didn't provide any details about how the Phoenix couple, both in their 60s, acquired the chloroquine.

The statement said that "within thirty minutes of ingestion, the couple experienced immediate effects requiring admittance to a nearby Banner Health hospital," CNN reported.

Chloroquine and other "inappropriate medications and household products" -- "should not be ingested to treat or prevent this virus," Banner Health warned.

"Given the uncertainty around COVID-19, we understand that people are trying to find new ways to prevent or treat this virus," Dr. Daniel Brooks, Banner Poison and Drug Information Center medical director, said in the statement, CNN reported. "But self-medicating is not the way to do so."

Trump has touted chloroquine and the closely-related hydroxychloroquine as potential treatments against COVID-19.

He promoted the notion at a news briefing on Friday, and again in a Saturday tweet.

"HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine," Trump tweeted Saturday.

But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, quickly qualified those assertions. Speaking at the same Friday news briefing, Fauci said there was only "anecdotal evidence" that chloroquine might work against the new coronavirus, and much more study was needed.

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