Canadian health officials have warned against using antimalarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to prevent or treat a new coronavirus infection.
“Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine can cause serious side effects. These medicines should only be used under the supervision of a physician, ”the Canadian Public Health Agency warned in an update published on Saturday on its website.
“Health Canada is concerned that some people may buy chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine directly and use it to prevent or treat Covid-19,” the agency added, noting that these drugs could cause “serious heart rhythm disorders.”
On Thursday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) issued a similar warning on these drugs, the use of which has been advocated by President Donald Trump.
Health Canada said chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have been approved to treat malaria and some autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, but are known to cause liver or kidney problems, low blood sugar, and nervous system problems. “The effects on heart rhythm … in the most serious cases can be fatal,” their report said.