Last month, the FDA authorised emergency use of the malaria drugs for hospitalised patients with COVID-19 who weren’t enrolled in ongoing clinical trials. But regulators said they were investigating life-threatening side effects reported with the drugs to poison control centres and other health authorities.
Calls to US poison control centres involving the malaria drugs have recently jumped 50 per cent, from 52 calls in March 2019 to 79 last month, according to Dr. Christopher Hoyte of the Rocky Mountain Poison Centre in Denver, Colorado.
The problems reported include irregular heart rhythms, seizures, nausea and vomiting, Hoyte said.
Trump has repeatedly touted hydroxychloroquine during his regular coronavirus briefings, calling it a “game changer” and suggesting its sceptics would be proved wrong. He has offered patient testimonials that the drug is a lifesaver.