Warning: People must not buy chloroquine to self-medicate for coronavirus
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Vietnam has not used chloroquine to treat Covid-19, neither has the health ministry recommended the drug to prevent the disease.
Drugs containing hydroxychloroquine have not been approved by the Vietnamese Ministry of Health (MoH) to cure Covid-19, thus, people should not use them on their own without doctors' prescription.
The MoH made the recommendation on March 23 after noting that the price of chloroquine/ hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria, was rising.
Many people have bought the drug after rumors circulated that the drug could prevent and cure Covid-19.
Deputy Director of the Drug Administration of Vietnam Nguyen Tat Dat said that drugs containing active ingredients of chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine are administered only with physicians’ indications to prevent or treat malaria.
Vietnam has not used chloroquine to treat Covid-19, neither has the health ministry recommended the drug to prevent the disease, Dat added.
Bach Mai Hospital recently treated a man who took 15 chloroquine pills, before exhibiting symptoms including vomiting, respiratory failure and hypotension. The man said he had heard rumors that the drug could prevent and cure Covid-19. He has been recently discharged from hospital.
The Ho Chi Minh City Center for Disease Control on March 22 also warned people not to hoard chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine, adding the drug carries a certain level of toxicity.
To ensure safety and effectiveness in Covid-19 pandemic prevention, the Drug Administration of Vietnam has requested drug retailers across the country not to increase prices or stockpile drugs containing chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine.
Earlier, on March 19, Reuters reported that rumors of chloroquine's ability to treat Covid-19 have emerged after United States President Donald Trump asked the United States Food and Drug Administration to streamline the regulatory approval process for the generic antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for Covid-19.
Trump's statement sparked demand for hydroxychloroquine and panic-buying and overdoses. Health officials across the world are issuing warnings over the use of antimalarial drugs.
In Vietnam, a bottle of chloroquine, distributed under the brand name Cloroquin Phosphat and containing about 150-250 pills, is usually sold for around VND100,000 (US$4.3). But recent demand surges have caused the price to jump 1.5-2 times.
As of March 25, the country has confirmed 134 Covid-19 cases, of whom 17 have been cured and discharged from hospital. Many of the currently active cases are Vietnamese nationals returning from Europe and the US as well as foreigners from epidemic-hit regions.