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Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information Issues Warning for Unapproved COVID-19 Treatments


Published: Wednesday, March 25, 2020


The Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information is warning Oklahoma residents not to use medications or household products to prevent or treat COVID-19 without first consulting their healthcare provider.

Most patients who become infected with COVID-19 require only treatment of symptoms and self-isolation to care for themselves and prevent infecting others. The use of medicines such as chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine without a prescription and monitoring by the prescriber is risky. These medicines and others are currently being studied for treatment of COVID-19, but inappropriate use has already caused one death in the United States and multiple significant poisonings. Some of the adverse effects of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine may include blindness and heart problems.

“We know people may try to find ways of preventing or treating COVID-19, but self-medicating with unprescribed medications or treatment with household products is dangerous,” said Scott Schaeffer, managing director of the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information. “Patients may believe they have found solutions online, but many of the treatments being promoted could jeopardize their health, with immediate and potentially life-threatening effects. We strongly urge the public to check with their primary care physician before taking any medicine or using other products for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19.”

To disinfect surfaces, the Centers for Diseases and Control Prevention recommends using diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and common EPA-registered household disinfectants. Learn more about disinfecting surfaces at cdc.gov.

Call the Poison Center with any questions or concerns regarding medications, and text “POISON” to 797979 to have the Oklahoma Poison Center number easily saved to your cell phone.

Pharmacists and registered nurses at the Poison Center are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (800) 222-1222. Please do not email the Poison Center or members of the Poison Center staff, as poisoning emergencies are not handled through email.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are used to treat several medical conditions including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and for the prevention and treatment of malaria. Patients with these conditions are now finding it difficult to have their prescriptions filled due to nationwide shortages. They can still be prescribed, but on March 21st Governor Stitt issued an Executive Order placing limitations on their use. Prescriptions for these drugs must now include a notation indicating the medical condition for which the medicine is prescribed, limiting the amount dispensed to no more than a 14-day supply, and not allowing refills unless a new prescription is issued. There are currently several clinical trials in progress evaluating these and other drugs for the treatment of COVID-19, but the studies will take time and results are not yet available.