Trump touts unproven coronavirus treatment hours after reports that a man in Arizona died trying to use it

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

President Donald Trump answers questions from reporters as U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper looks on during the daily White House coronavirus response briefing with members of his administration's coronavirus task force at the White House in Washington, DC, March 18, 2020.


  • President Donald Trump used Monday evening's White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing to promote an unproven treatment for the coronavirus.
  • Earlier in the day, an Arizona medical facility reported a fatality after a couple tried to self-medicate with the drug, chloroquine phosphate.
  • The Arizona husband and wife were trying to immunize themselves from COVID-19 — but they apparently used a version of chloroquine meant for cleaning fish tanks, according to a press release from Banner Health in Phoenix. The man died, and the woman is in critical condition.
  • Trump has drawn attention to the antimalarial version of chloroquine, but the Food and Drug Administration has not approved it as a COVID-19 treatment.
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President Donald Trump once again praised an unproven treatment for the coronavirus during a press briefing at the White House on Monday — just hours after an Arizona medical facility announced a fatality from someone trying to self-medicate with it.

The drug, chloroquine phosphate, has been proved to treat malaria, but the Food and Drug Administration has emphasized that as it relates to COVID-19 it is available only for off-label use, in which doctors can use their judgment to prescribe drugs for uses not approved by the FDA.

Trump erroneously claimed the FDA had approved the drug to treat COVID-19 during a briefing last week.

At the start of Monday's briefing, he brought it up again, citing an unspecified news report about a man getting better from taking chloroquine.

He did not, however, address the news coming from Phoenix, where, according to the medical facility Banner Health, a man and his wife tried to immunize themselves from COVID-19 with chloroquine but apparently used a version meant for cleaning fish tanks.

The man died, and his wife is in critical condition, according to Banner Health, which urged people not to self-medicate and to consult a doctor before seeking treatment

"Given the uncertainty around COVID-19, we understand that people are trying to find new ways to prevent or treat this virus, but self-medicating is not the way to do so," Dr. Daniel Brooks, the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center medical director said in the release. "The last thing that we want right now is to inundate our emergency departments with patients who believe they found a vague and risky solution that could potentially jeopardize their health."

"We are strongly urging the medical community to not prescribe this medication to any non-hospitalized patients," Dr. Brooks added.

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