An Arizona couple was sent to the hospital after they ingested chloroquine phosphate — a chemical compound used to clean fish aquariums — because they suspected it could help prevent coronavirus infections.
According to Banner Health, the man has now died and the woman is in critical care. The hospital has since urged people to avoid self-medicating, which can have adverse health effects and strain the medical system at a time when keeping resources available is crucial.
“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, medical director of the hospital’s Poison and Drug Information Center.
“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,” said Brooks.
According to NBC News, the man took the chemical substance “in an attempt to protect himself from becoming infected with the coronavirus.” The deceased man was in his sixties and died at the hospital, and the woman is roughly the same age.
In an interview later that day, the woman told NBC News journalist Vaughn Hillyard that they each took 1 teaspoon of the chemical, mixed with soda, after finding it in their cabinet and coming to believe that it was “the stuff they’re talking about on TV.”
“It feels like, like my heart is broken and it’ll never mend,” said the woman, who blamed President Trump for their believing that chloroquine phosphate was safe to consume.
“Don’t take anything — be so careful and call your doctor. This is a heart ache I’ll never get over,” said the woman.
The woman acknowledged hearing that the FDA had not approved chloroquine for coronavirus treatment, but was dismissive of the warning because she kept hearing it had been “approved for other things.”
The Food and Drug Administration has stated that there are currently no approved drugs to treat, prevent or cure COVID-19, which is the disease caused by the coronavirus.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, President Trump has authorized the FDA to fast-track trials to determine whether chloroquine, which has been used to treat malaria, can be safe and effective against coronavirus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has cautioned that the evidence chloroquine can help to treat coronavirus is still only anecdotal.
“We’re trying to strike a balance between making something, with the potential of an effect to the American people, available,” said Dr. Fauci, adding that trials would need to be designed to “give us information to determine if it’s truly safe and truly effective.”
According to The New York Times, Trump agreed with Dr. Fauci’s remarks, projecting an optimistic tone about the future of the trials.
“We all understand what the doctor said is one-hundred percent correct. It’s early,” said Trump. “I’ve seen things that are impressive and we’ll see. We’re going to know soon.”