ISLAMABAD: In a recent Press Conference, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has warned citizens against taking chloroquine as it can severely damage the liver and become a reason for heart attack. The conference was held to clear the air after receiving reports of a number of people using the drug, a medicine prescribed for treating malaria, as prophylactic treatment against COVID-19.
“It is unfortunate that people have started using the medicine without consulting health experts. We want to warn them that the drug has adverse side-effects, which is why it has been decided to put it in the prescription medicine list,” DRAP Chief Executive Officer Dr Asim Rauf told.
He said just like controlled drugs, medical stores will have to keep a copy of the medical expert’s prescription before selling chloroquine.
“We have carried out the stock taking of the medicine and as per our record there are around 25 million tablets in the market and 9,000kg raw material. This stock can last a year but irrational use and storage of medicine by people can create shortage in the market,” he said.
Dr Rauf said the use of chloroquine, without the supervision of a doctor, could damage vital organs, including liver and heart, as it was a toxic medicine.
Last week during a briefing at the White House, US President Donald Trump had claimed that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved the `very powerful` drug chloroquine to treat Covid-19. He had said the medicine had shown very encouraging results and will be available in the market almost immediately. He also said that normally FDA takes a long time to approve drugs but due to the nature of the case it was approved quickly.
As a result of this statement, people across the globe started using the medicine for prophylactic treatment.
In the meantime, FDA issued a statement in which it said that it had not approved the medicine for treating Covid-19 and was studying its use against the disease.
During a press conference on March 22, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza had said the sale of chloroquine without prescription was banned.
“It is an old medicine which is being used to treat malaria, but suddenly it has disappeared from the market. Though the export of the medicine is already banned, we have done stock taking across the country. We have also contacted experts of infectious diseases to find out if it should be used for treating coronavirus. There is no evidence that people can use it as prophylactic treatment,” he added.