DRAP warns against using anti-malaria drug to treat coronavirus

Top drug regulator says chloroquine is in trial phase and not being used to treat Covid-19 patients


Shabbir Hussain May 01, 2020
Chloroquine have long been used in the treatment of malaria. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) has warned against using anti-malaria drug chloroquine and a related derivative, hydroxychloroquine – the medicine that is being touted as a potential cure for the novel coronavirus.

The regulator in an advisory on Friday said that clinical trials are underway to evaluate the effectiveness of chloroquine against Covid-19 and currently, the medicine is not being used to treat the contagious disease.

There are serious side effects of chloroquine including renal, liver and heart damage, Drap said in the advisory, adding that the medicine could also cause fits and lower the blood sugar level.

It strictly advised the people against self-medication.

Punjab studies chloroquine as possible treatment for COVID-19

Around the world, countries are expanding access to hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and chloroquine (CQ), related compounds that are synthetic forms of quinine, which comes from cinchona trees and has been used for centuries to treat malaria.

The medicines have shown promise against the Covid-19 illness in early studies in France and China, which led US President Donald Trump this week to call them a “gift from God” — even as experts urge caution until bigger trials validate their effectiveness.

The federal government last month gave a nod to export the chloroquine to help "friendly countries" to fight Covid-19, which has so far infected over 3.27 million people and claimed nearly 237,000 lives in 210 countries and territories around the world.

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