The elderly man died after taking chloroquine phosphate, an additive used to clean fish tanks. Trump has been promoting chloroquine as a potential treatment for the coronavirus, but health officials say it hasn’t been tested properly.
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A man died and his wife needed critical care after they both took a drug meant for aquariums that contains chloroquine, a drug President Trump recently touted as a treatment for COVID-19 in spite of a lack of study by health officials or approval by the World Health Organization.
According to the Banner Health hospital system in Phoenix, the couple, both in their sixties, ingested chloroquine phosphate, “an additive commonly used at aquariums to clean fish tanks.” One aquarium supply store online described it as a “wonder drug” that was once only available through veterinarians — for saltwater fish, not humans. The site is currently sold out of the drug.
Thirty minutes after taking the chloroquine phosphate, the couple experienced serious, immediate effects that required them to go to the hospital.
Dr. Daniel Brooks, medical director of the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center, said that the aquarium additive that the couple ingested has the same active ingredients as the anti-malaria drug chloroquine. However, the formula activated differently than the prescription, Alexis Kramer-Ainza, spokesperson for Banner Health, told BuzzFeed News, making them seriously ill.
The man’s wife, who asked her name not be used to protect her privacy, told NBC News that she took the drug after “I saw it sitting on the back shelf and thought, ‘Hey, isn’t that the stuff they’re talking about on TV?'”