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DOH warns against using antimalarial drug chloroquine vs. COVID-19

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Sunday cautioned against the public using the antimalarial drug chloroquine to treat COVID-19.

“Ito ay anti-malarial drug. May side effects ito,” Vergeire said.

“Hindi ito maaaring gamitin pam-prophylaxis,” she said.

“Kailangang mag-ingat sa pagtake ng mga gamot na lumalabas. Kailangan with adequate guidance ng doctor,” she said.

On Saturday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the Department of Health, the Philippine College of Physicians, and the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Disease (PSMID) are drafting guidelines on the use of antimalarial drugs against the COVID-19.

In a circular, Duque explained that the protocol will entail the "off-label use" of the antiviral and antimalarial drugs which may have potential negative side effects.

Due to this, Duque advised health authorities and hospital administrators to monitor the use of the drug.

He also said the patient or a legally authorised representative must give consent before the drug is administered.

The Philippine Pharmacists Association, Inc. issued an advisory on Saturday saying pharmacists should not dispense chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as prophylaxis for COVID-19 without a doctor’s prescription.

The association cited the well-known adverse effects of antimalarial drugs such as abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea among others.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hydrochloroquine has been used on hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the US, while chloroquine has been used in China.

The CDC however said: "There are no US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs specifically for the treatment of patients with COVID-19." —KG, GMA News