Trump Said This Drug Showed Promise Against Coronavirus. Now a Man Is Dead and His Wife Is Hospitalized

Illustration for article titled Trump Said This Drug Showed Promise Against Coronavirus. Now a Man Is Dead and His Wife Is Hospitalized
Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Getty Images)

An Arizona couple made the costly mistake of listening to the president.

During a recent press briefing, President Trump touted the potential benefits of a drug called hydroxychloroquine, despite no drug being approved to prevent or treat coronavirus. The couple remembered the name since it sounded similar to chloroquine phosphate, a drug they used to treat their koi fish.


“I saw it sitting on the back shelf and thought, ‘Hey, isn’t that the stuff they’re talking about on TV?’” the wife, who didn’t want to use her name, told NBC News. She and her husband both took chloroquine phosphate hoping that it would prevent them from getting the coronavirus. The couple, both in their 60s, mixed a small amount of the drug with a liquid and drank it.

“The toxic ingredient they consumed was not the medication form of chloroquine, used to treat malaria in humans. Instead, it was an ingredient listed on a parasite treatment for fish,” NBC News reports.

“We were afraid of getting sick,” she said.

NBC News reports that 20 minutes after drinking the mixture they both became extremely ill, feeling “dizzy and hot.”


“I started vomiting,” the woman told NBC News. “My husband started developing respiratory problems and wanted to hold my hand.”

The woman called 911 and emergency responders wanted to know what they’d taken, but the woman could barely talk.


“I was having a hard time talking, falling down.”

The paramedics arrived and took them both to a local hospital; her husband died shortly after they arrived.


“The couple unfortunately equated the chloroquine phosphate in their fish treatment with the medication—known by its generic name, hydroxychloroquine—that has recently been touted as a possible treatment for COVID-19, which has infected more than 42,000 people in the U.S. and killed at least 462,” NBC News reports.

Dr. Daniel Brooks, medical director of Banner Poison and Drug Information Center, noted that during this time of uncertainty, many people may be trying to find ways to prevent getting coronavirus but they need to be careful.


“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.”

NBC News notes that on Friday, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control pleaded with its people not to take chloroquine, after two reported poisonings.


The Arizona woman told NBC News to only listen to medical professionals for preventative measures surrounding the coronavirus.


“Be careful and call your doctor,” she said.

“This is a heartache I’ll never get over.”

Senior Editor @ The Root, boxes outside my weight class, when they go low, you go lower.


Yeah, I don’t think you can blame reports that controlled medical use of a substance are being investigated for medical treatment on someone going out and drinking fish additives, and more than you can blame reports on the dangers of high blood pressure for someone drinking rat poison (which actually isn’t a blood thinner any more).

This actually seems more to do with a culture of self-medicating with random things without any medical consultation or FDA assessment based on various claims and occasionally studies claiming “potential” benefits, such as with CBD oil. General tip: if you’re not using something per the label or according to recognized compendia, you’re basically playing Russian roulette.