You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Man dies after ingesting chloroquine in an attempt to prevent coronavirus

NBC News logo NBC News 24/03/2020 Erika Edwards

An Arizona man died after ingesting chloroquine phosphate in an attempt to protect himself from becoming infected with the coronavirus. © AFP Images An Arizona man died after ingesting chloroquine phosphate in an attempt to protect himself from becoming infected with the coronavirus. An Arizona man died after ingesting chloroquine phosphate in an attempt to protect himself from becoming infected with the coronavirus.┬áThe man's wife also ingested the drug and is under critical care.

The drug chloroquine is used to treat malaria, and some early research suggests it may be useful in treating COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

No drugs are approved to prevent or treat the coronavirus.

If medications are taken without any clear benefit proven by science, "they have the potential for a lot of harm," said Dr. Ben Singer, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, who was not involved with Arizona couple's case.

Pictures: Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak around the world

Dr. Daniel Brooks, medical director of Banner Poison and Drug Information Center, said in a statement: "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."

A news release from Banner Health, based in Arizona, said the couple, both in their 60s, took an additive called chloroquine phosphate, used to clean fish tanks, to try to prevent infection with the coronavirus.

Within half an hour, both needed to seek emergency medical care. The man later died.

On Friday, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control pleaded with its people not to engage in self-medication with chloroquine, as it "will cause harm and can lead to death." The country had reported at least two such poisonings.

President Donald Trump touted the drug for its potential during a news conference last week; however, the Food and Drug Administration later said that it had not approved chloroquine for the coronavirus and that much more study was needed.

More from NBC News

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon