Countries around the world are expanding access to these two drugs used to treat malaria, which are known to have antiviral properties.
The two drugs showed a promising early result for Covid-19 therapy in preliminary studies conducted in France and China.
But the European Medicines Agency has warned against using the two drugs to treat Covid-19, unless absolutely necessary.
“It is very important that patients and competent medical care teams use chloroquine and hydrochloroquine only as part of clinical trials or in national emergencies to treat Covid 19,” the agency said.
Both drugs have a potentially dangerous side effect, especially when taken in large doses or given in combination with other drugs.
The agency said, in a statement, that “the two drugs should not be used without a prescription and without the supervision of a doctor. Prescriptions outside the permitted uses should be given only for clinical trial or within agreed protocols at the country level.”
There are also concerns about a deficiency, especially in chloroquine, the least dangerous of the two, which is also used to treat arthritis.
Many countries are conducting clinical trials of the two drugs as part of efforts to limit the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic.
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