Fact vs. fiction: Hydroxychloroquine and coronavirus

Fact vs. fiction: Hydroxychloroquine and coronavirus

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A single mother in Jacksonville said she was sick with the coronavirus for more than 40 days. Meghan Debbie believes she came in contact with another patient while at work.

“I thought I was going to die,” Debbie said. “It completely overtook me.”

For weeks, she said she had severe symptoms. Later, it progressed to trouble breathing and requiring nasal cannula for oxygen.

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“There’s nothing that makes you feel better, no amount of Tylenol or nothing. Then you can’t breathe,” she said.

Debbie said she hit a turning point with hydroxychloroquine. It’s a powerful drug that was originally designed to treat malaria. It’s mostly used in Africa and Asia.

In later years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved hydroxychloroquine to treat malaria and other autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Once the coronavirus hit, health care experts tested the drug to find if it would help COVID-19 patients. Debbie said she believes it helped her recover.

“I picked up my prescription, and within a few days, my symptoms started improving. By the end of my treatment, I was dramatically improving,” Debbie said.

She said her doctors at Baptist Health consulted with experts to see if she was a viable candidate for the drug. Debbie said she was given a prescription to take the pill once a day for six days.

The FDA issued a warning about using hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus patients in April. The department said it can cause dangerous abnormalities in heart rhythm for these patients.

“There’s no evidence that it works (for COVID-19),” Dr. Mobeen Rathore said. “There’s some suggestion that it may even cause some harm, so I would suggest that we don’t use it. You want to help, not hurt people.”

Rathore is an infectious disease specialist with Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville. He advised coronavirus patients against taking the drug since it has not been proven to help.

“There is no evidence that hydroxychloroquine has any benefit for patients who are infected with the coronavirus or the cause of COVID-19,” Rathore said.

Hydroxychloroquine: Fact vs. Fiction