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ABC6: What to Know About Malaria Drug and COVID-19

TV6 5P Hydroxychloroquine 4.6.20

Finding treatment options for COVID-19 is a top priority in the medical community right now, and hydroxychloroquine, a type of drug used to treat malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, has been mentioned frequently in the news. 

Joseph Gastaldo, MD, OhioHealth system medical director, infectious diseases, sat down with ABC6 to talk about whether this drug is safe and effective at treating COVID-19 patients.

“For the most part, it is a well-tolerated medication, however, any medication has potential side effects," said Dr. Gastaldo to ABC6 reporter Ben Garbarek. “Hydroxychloroquine can make you at higher risk of having a potentially serious cardiac arrythmia where your heart beats in an irregular way, which can lead to a bad outcome.”

So far, studies have shown limited evidence that the drug works, but more tests continue to be implemented. It has not been approved by the FDA to be used for COVID-19, but doctors have been given the authority to use it during emergencies.

Dr. Gastaldo says hydroxychloroquine should not be used to prevent yourself from getting COVID-19 and it shouldn't be used for patients with mild symptoms. It should only be used as a last resort for seriously ill patients.