On Monday, The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued an official guidance warning against the use of chloroquine phosphate to treat coronavirus (COVID-19). The CDC issued the alert after learning of a couple that ingested the substance, leaving one dead and another critically ill, according to a release from Camden County, New Jersey.
Non-pharmaceutical chloroquine phosphate is a chemical intended for use with aquariums. The agency included in its guidance that it is aware of unconfirmed media reports that the commercially available chemicals may be out of stock due to potential increased demand.
“The CDC has made clear that at this time, there is no miracle cure or prevention sitting unused in your basement or on the shelves of a superstore,” said Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr.
“There is a stark difference between FDA-approved compounds used to treat specific illnesses and related chemicals used in other items. If you are worried about contracting coronavirus, please follow the steps we have been outlining and do not ingest any substances which have not been prescribed by your physician. Staying inside is your best means of prevention at this time.”
Chloroquine phosphate has a narrow therapeutic index and can be toxic at levels not much higher than those used for treatment, the CDC warns. This raises the risk of inadvertent overdose and underscores the necessity not to ingest commercially available, non-pharmaceutical chemicals or substances.
For more information, read the CDC’s guidance here.
If you or someone you know is concerned about a drug, chemical, food, or poison exposure, call the New Jersey Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.