It does not appear they took the pharmaceutical version of the drug, but rather “an additive commonly used at aquariums to clean fish tanks,” Banner Health said in a statement.
Though Banner did not provide additional details, NBC News spoke to the wife, who said they learned of chloroquine’s connection to coronavirus during a President Donald Trump news conference, which “was on a lot actually.” They took it because they “were afraid of getting sick,” she said.
Banner Health experts emphasized that the medication — as well as other “inappropriate medications and household products” — “should not be ingested to treat or prevent this virus.”
“Given the uncertainty around Covid-19, we understand that people are trying to find new ways to prevent or treat this virus,” Dr. Daniel Brooks, medical director of the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center, said in the statement. “But self-medicating is not the way to do so.”
Banner Health, which is based in Arizona, didn’t give any details on how the couple, both in their 60s, acquired the chloroquine or which Banner hospital treated them.
“Within thirty minutes of ingestion, the couple experienced immediate effects requiring admittance to a nearby Banner Health hospital,” its statement said.
Trump has called chloroquine and the closely related hydroxychloroquine potentially important in the fight against Covid-19.
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak on Tuesday barred doctors in the state from prescribing chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus, saying “there is no consensus” among health experts that they can effectively treat Covid-19.
“While studies are underway on the usefulness of these drugs in treating Covid-19, we must deal with facts, not fiction,” Dr. Ishan Azzam with the state Division of Public and Behavioral Health said in the governor’s press release.
Sisolak’s office said the move was “aimed at preventing hoarding of the drugs.”
“I’m not disagreeing with the fact anecdotally they might work, but my job is to prove definitively from a scientific standpoint that they do work,” said Fauci, who serves on the White House coronavirus task force.
Banner Health said it is “strongly urging” health care providers not to prescribe chloroquine to patients who aren’t hospitalized.
“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,” Brooks said.
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