Chloroquine not approved for COVID-19 treatment yet: DOH

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 22 2020 11:54 AM | Updated as of Mar 22 2020 12:06 PM

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MANILA - The Department of Health has yet to recommend the use of chloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria, in cases of COVID-19, an official said Sunday.

The agency is still working with medical experts in the country to come up with clinical guidelines, according to DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

"For anybody to use this now, we need hard evidence so we can be able to minimize side effects if ever," Vergeire told ANC.

"Our advisory was, they need to wait, and for those who are already using it, there should be informed consent and there should be guidance from their attending physicians."

The anti-malarial does not prevent COVID-19 and can affect a person's liver and interact with other medicines, Vergeire warned as she said authorities on Monday will begin monitoring the sale of the drug.

"We are advising citizens, especially those who have co-existing conditions and are taking other medicines to go see your physician first, go wait for the DOH advisory before you use this," she said.

"The Food and Drug Administration has already been alerted. Starting Monday, we will go around monitoring and also have this advisory for our retail outlets not to sell this for any specific reason other than malaria."

US President Donald Trump on Thursday said the anti-malarial drug had been "approved" to treat COVID-19 by America's Food and Drug Administration, only for the head of the agency to row back and say it had not yet been given a definitive green light. 

The drug has recently been used to treat coronavirus patients in China and in France, where some researchers said it showed great promise, though scientists agree that only more trials would determine if it really works and is safe. --With a report from Agence France-Presse