PHOENIX (AP) — A Phoenix-area man has died and his wife was in critical condition after the couple took chloroquine phosphate, an additive used to clean fish tanks that is also found in an anti-malaria medication.
Banner Health said Monday that the couple in their 60’s got sick within half an hour of ingesting the additive. The man couldn’t be resuscitated when he arrived at a hospital, but the woman was able to throw up much of the chemical, Banner said.
It’s unclear if the couple took it specifically because of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, but now Banner Health is warning everyone to avoid 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 Dr. Daniel Brooks, 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.”
Chloroquine is obtained by prescription, and Banner Health is now urging medical providers against prescribing it to people who aren’t hospitalized. The difference between the fish tank cleaning additive that the couple took and the drug used to treat malaria is the way they are formulated.
The man’s death came as the number of COVID-19 cases in Arizona spiked more than 50% in one day, from 152 on Sunday to 235 on Monday, according to the state Health Department.
NOTE: A previous version of this story by the Associated Press created some confusion regarding the difference between the anti-malarial medication and the ingredient in the fish tank cleaner. While both are chloroquine phosphate they are not the same thing and are not formulated the same way. While President Trump has said that chloroquine is being tested as a form of treatment for COVID-19, it needs to be made clear that he was not talking about fish tank cleaner. KSN wants to make it clear that you should not take any medications without consulting your doctor.