Anti-malaria drug used in Nigeria to treat COVID 19 causes poisoning

New York: The Nigerian government has issued a warning over the use of anti-malaria drug chloroquine to treat COVID-19 disease after three people in the country took an overdose of the drug and were hospitalized as it caused poisoning.

According to a CNN report on Monday, Nigerian authorities have cautioned against using chloroquine for new coronavirus treatment.

A Nigerian journalist Gboyega Akosile tweeted: "Please note: Hospitals Now Receiving Patients Suffering From Chloroquine Poisoning, Says Gov @jidesanwoolu's SSA on Health, Dr @Oreoluwa_Finnih. She urged people against massive consumption of Chloroquine as a measure to fight #coronavirus".

US President Donald Trump claimed last week that chloroquine -- one of the oldest and best-known anti-malarial drugs -- had been approved by the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).

The FDA, however, has made it clear that the drug has not been approved yet for treating those infected with Covid-19.

"Trump's endorsement of the drug led to a surge of interest among Nigerians keen to stock up on the medication, which has led to inevitable price hikes in the megacity of around 20 million inhabitants," said the report.

Chloroquine is generally used to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Dr Michel Yao from the World Health Organization (WHO) told CNN it is too early to make recommendations about the efficacy of any for the treatment of the virus.

Nigeria has reported 30 cases of COVID-19 to date.

The National Task Force for COVID-19 constituted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Monday recommended the use of anti-malaria drug hydroxy-chloroquine – a a less toxic derivative of chloroquine -- to treat the COVID-19 disease in high-risk cases albeit with utmost precaution.

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