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During these challenging times, people are trying to find reliable treatments of the novel coronavirus, successfully or unsuccessfully. As the saying goes, old friends and old wine are the best. Some old antiviral and antimalarial drugs, which have already begun to be forgotten, have shown decent effectiveness in treating the new dangerous infection.
Chloroquine (sold under trade names Aralen, Avloclor, Cadiquin, Malaquin, Malarex, and others) is one of them.
History of the Drug and Its Uses
Chloroquine has been used to treat malaria for over 70 years. It belongs to the group of 4-aminoquinoline derivatives. Italian researcher Johann Andersag discovered it in 1934 as part of his work at Bayer AG. For decades, this discovery was ignored, as doctors believed that it was too dangerous for the human body. However, during the Second World War, American clinical laboratories thoroughly tested the medication and the scientists unequivocally stated that chloroquine is important for the treatment of malaria and can be used by patients.
The drug causes the death of erythrocyte forms of certain types of plasmodia, including those that cause malaria disease.
However, many plasmodia have developed resistance to the medication, so people began to use it mainly for preventive purposes rather than for therapeutic ones (of course, malaria is better to prevent than to treat and this applies to any disease).
It is also used to treat certain autoimmune diseases resulting from the fact that the immune system mistakenly attacks its own organs and tissues.
Opinion of French Scientists
Clinical studies of chloroquine conducted in a hospital in Marseille have shown its effectiveness in treating coronavirus infection, as reported by Forbes and other top media. As an official spokeswoman for the French government said on Tuesday, March 17, the results were ‘promising’ and the research will be expanded.
On Monday, the famous French infectious disease doctor, head of the Mediterranean Institute of Infectious Diseases in Marseille, Didier Raoult, reported that 24 patients infected with coronavirus agreed to take Plaquenil (this is one of the commercial names for chloroquine). A week after starting the therapy with the drug, only 6 of them remained infected. At the same time, 90% of those who did not take this medication were still carriers of the virus. Therefore, the pharmaceutical was recommended by French doctors for widespread use. They noted that it is affordable and has a low cost, so almost any patient can buy it.
Guidelines Developed by Chinese Researchers
During the outbreak of coronavirus in China, scientists and doctors have tested many drugs. They found that chloroquine restrained the development of pneumonia, improved lung condition and reduced the duration of the disease. They also recommended the use of 500 mg of chloroquine phosphate for 10 days as the optimal duration of treatment for the disease. The drug showed effectiveness regardless of the severity of the illness (mild / moderate / severe).
Last Update from USA
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of the antimalarial drug chloroquine for the treatment of patients with coronavirus (in test regime). It should be noted that this is the first drug which received a positive feedback from the FDA.
Where to Find Chloroquine?
As the medication is not very popular, many pharmacies have ceased its sales. For instance, top European online pharmacies do not have it, offering other antimalarial drugs as substitutes. However, some web-enabled drugstores which have been operating for long time on the market, have reserves of this drug (its production has not stopped).
Customers can buy it at My Canadian Health&Care Mall.
It’s Important to Know
You need to take the medicine with caution, adhering to the recommended dosages. An overdose increases the risk of side effects, which can be very unpleasant and even dangerous.
Perspectives of Chloroquine
Chloroquine is now undergoing several additional studies which should reveal its mechanism of action against COVID in detail and specify peculiarities of its administration (although instructions from Chinese scientists exist right now). It seems the medication has received a new lease of life. Despite mediocre effectiveness against malaria, it showed great efficiency in treating coronavirus, was approved by the FDA, and will regain popularity all over the world amidst quickly spreading pandemic of COVID-2019.
Dr. Douglas Goldberg, MD is a Cardiology Specialist in Mineola, NY. He is affiliated with medical facilities Nyu Winthrop Hospital and Mercy Medical Center.