What’s the Deal with Hydroxychloroquine?

Scientists are rushing to find treatment options to stop the spread of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus. Recently, Donald Trump, the President of the United States, spoke of the potential for a commonly used anti-malarial drug to work effectively against COVID-19. The drug, hydroxychloroquine, is also known to treat certain auto-immune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, especially when other medications have not worked. Additionally, the drug is used to treat post-Lyme arthritis, and it may have both anti-spirochaete and anti-inflammatory properties, which is why our readers may be familiar with it.  

But what is hydroxychloroquine? Does it have the potential political officials are claiming it does? The drug is on the World Health Organizations List of Essential Medicines, which includes the safest and most effective medicines needed in a health system, but why did one man die after self-medicating? This quick guide will walk you through what you need to know about the drug.  

What is hydroxychloroquine? 

Put simply, hydroxychloroquine is a medication used for the prevention and treatment of certain types of malaria, as well as some auto-immune diseases. It is taken by mouth, and common side effects include vomiting, headache, changes in vision, and muscle weakness. Only available with a prescription, the drug has been widely available for years. 

Why It’s in the Headlines 

In mid-February 2020, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were recommended by a South Korean task force in the experimental treatment of COVID-19. In early March, the AIFA Scientific Technical Commission of the Italian Medicines Agency spoke favorably of the medication option. We should note that, as a potential treatment, hydroxychloroquine has only been used experimentally and has not been tested on a large scale.  

In mid-March, President Donald Trump spoke highly of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for the novel coronavirus, which is spreading rapidly through the world, causing thousands of deaths. However, these statements were likely made prematurely, as there has not been enough time to conduct thorough tests on the drug’s side effects in coronavirus treatment. Still, people around America are beginning to stock up and hoard hydroxychloroquine, causing a shortage for people who rely on the drug for everyday bodily functions. 

Why it Matters 

In all likelihood, hydroxychloroquine will not be the coronavirus treatment hundreds of millions of people are going to need. Even if it does positively impact coronavirus prognoses, preliminary results are not yet promising enough to say. When the hype dies down, those of you who use this drug regularly should be able to obtain it again. It’s only a matter of time.  

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