Trump touts unproven coronavirus treatment hours after reports that it killed a man in Arizona who was self medicating

Donald Trump

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 from the drug, chloroquine phosphate.
  • An Arizona man self-medicated with the drug in an effort to immunize himself from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
  • His wife also took the drug, and is in critical condition, according to a press release from Banner Health in Phoenix.
  • Trump has called it a "miracle drug," and hyped-up trials beginning in New York. He cited an unspecified news report about a man whose life was reportedly saved by the drug as he was dying from COVID-19, but did not mention the Arizona fatality.
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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 self-medicating with it.

The drug, chloroquine phosphate, has been proven to treat malaria, but the FDA has emphasized that it is only available as an "off-label" drug doctors could choose to treat symptoms for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. 

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. 

However, he did not address the news coming from Phoenix, Arizona, where a man died from self-medicating with the drug in an effort to immunize himself and his wife from COVID-19, according to a press release from the Banner Health medical facility in Phoenix.

The man's wife is also in critical condition, according to Banner Health. 

The chloroquine the man took apparently came from an additive used to clean fish tanks. 

"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.

Get the latest coronavirus news and updates on how COVID-19 impacts our daily lives and businesses.

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