FDA issues warnings on chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine after ‘serious poisoning and death’ reported

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An employee checks the production of chloroquine phosphate, resumed after a 15-year break, in a pharmaceutical company in Nantong city in east China’s Jiangsu province Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. Chloroquine phosphate, an old drug for the treatment of malaria, has shown some efficacy and acceptable safety against COVID-19 associated pneumonia in trials, according to Chinese media.

Feature China | Barcroft Media | Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration warned consumers Friday against taking chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 outside a hospital or formal clinical trial after “serious” poisoning and deaths were reported. 

The agency said it became aware of reports of “serious heart rhythm problems” in patients with the virus who were treated with the malaria drugs, often in combination with azithromycin, also known as Z-Pak. 

“We will continue to investigate risks associated with the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for COVID-19 and communicate publicly when we have more information,” the agency wrote in the notice.

The FDA said patients taking the drugs for agency-approved indications to treat malaria or autoimmune conditions should continue taking their medicine as prescribed.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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