Man dies after taking chloroquine phosphate in effort to prevent coronavirus

Health care company Banner Health announced Monday that a patient had died and his wife was in critical condition after they apparently took chloroquine phosphate as a possible cure for coronavirus.

In a statement, the company urged Americans against taking drugs not prescribed for them in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has sickened thousands of people across the country. The chemical, which is available in tablet form as an antimalarial, is also used as a cleaning chemical.

"A man has died and his wife is under critical care after the couple, both in their 60s, ingested chloroquine phosphate, an additive commonly used at aquariums to clean fish tanks. Within thirty minutes of ingestion, the couple experienced immediate effects requiring admittance to a nearby Banner Health hospital," the statement read.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Most patients who become infected with COVID-19 will only require symptomatic care and self-isolation to prevent the risk of infecting others. Check first with a primary care physician. The routine use of specific treatments, including medications described as 'anti-COVID-19', is not recommended for non-hospitalized patients, including the anti-malarial drug chloroquine," the statement continued.

It was unclear from Banner Health's statement whether the couple had received confirmed diagnoses of COVID-19 before ingesting the drug. More than 370,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus globally, and thousands have died.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWith VP pick, Biden can't play small ball in a long ball world Coronavirus hits defense contractor jobs Wake up America, your country doesn't value your life MORE tweeted about the use of chloroquine as an effective treatment for severe coronavirus cases over the weekend, urging Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials to put it to use "immediately."

"HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. The FDA has moved mountains - Thank You! Hopefully they will BOTH (H works better with A, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents) be put in use IMMEDIATELY. PEOPLE ARE DYING, MOVE FAST, and GOD BLESS EVERYONE!" he tweeted.

"Trump kept saying it was basically pretty much a cure," the woman whose husband died told NBC.

She said her advice for people would be, "Don't take anything. Don't believe anything. Don't believe anything that the president says and his people ... call your doctor."

Updated on March 24 at 8:07 a.m.