Pharmacy experts at the University of Huddersfield have cautioned against using antimalarial drugs chloroquine (CQ) and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to treat coronavirus patients.

As the evidence currently stands, write authors of an article in the British Journal of Pharmacy, CQ or HCQ cannot be used as a general treatment for all Covid-19 patients.

Although there have been some encouraging signs from small-scale preliminary trials of the two drugs on coronavirus patients, the results are preliminary and should be treated with care, argue Department of Pharmacy’s Dr Syed Shahzad Hasan and Dr Hamid Merchant.

The authors chart the excitement in press and social media over claims that CQ and HCQ could be effective Covid-19 treatments. But they also report how this has led to hoarding and therefore shortages of the drugs – available over the counter in some countries.

There have been reports of deaths in some parts of the world because of inappropriate self-use of CQ, they say, adding: while the drugs have a good safety record, they can have seriously adverse side-effects, including loss of vision and fatal cardiovascular problems.

“It is the duty of pharmacists and other healthcare professionals to monitor the proper usage of these antimalarial drugs,” states the British Journal of Pharmacy article.

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