Hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19: Health Canada cautions against anti-malaria drugs use
The Canadian health department said the two drugs may cause serious side effects, including serious heart rhythm problems.
Health Canada has cautioned on Saturday against the use of anti-malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to prevent or treat COVID-19. This comes after the US Food and Drug Administration also issued same warning on Friday.
The Canadian health department said the two drugs may cause serious side effects, including serious heart rhythm problems. It advised use of the two drugs only if prescribed by a doctor.
The US Food and Drug Administration said that the side effects of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine include serious and potentially life-threatening heart rhythm problems. The anti malaria drug has been touted by President Donald Trump as "game changer" in battle against coronavirus.
The FDA has allowed healthcare providers to use the drugs for COVID-19 through its emergency use authorization, but has not approved them to treat the disease.
Meanwhile, acccording to a report in the New York Times, prescriptions for these malaria drugs surged by more than 46 times on the day when Trump touted his opinion about their effectiveness during a March briefing.
“I think it could be something really incredible,” Trump said on March 19, adding that the two drugs had shown “very, very encouraging results” in treating the virus but that more study was needed, the report quoted Trump as saying.
By that evening, first-time prescriptions of the drugs — chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine — flooded into retail pharmacies at more than 46 times the rate of the average weekday, according to a New York Times analysis of prescription data, the report said.
The 32,000 prescriptions came from a broad range of doctors, including rheumatologists, cardiologists, dermatologists, psychiatrists and podiatrists, according to the report.
COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, has no approved treatment or vaccine. But hydroxychloroquine has been widely used in an attempt to alter the course of COVID-19 based on anecdotal reports that it may provide some benefit.