Laura Ainsworth, Staff Writer
Hydroxychloroquine has been shown to protect against malaria –- I took it myself on a trip to India several years ago –- and it has been around for, oh, about 70 years. It’s considered by doctors to be quite a safe drug, though patients should be monitored by their health practitioner “just in case” because it has been associated with heart arrhythmia. Many people who have lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune problems have been on this drug for years, even decades, at a time, and some of these patients really need it to get along, as we're discovering now that they're having trouble obtaining it.
But to hear the media, this drug has terrible, life-threatening side effects. Never mind the stories of dramatic reversals and recoveries; this drug will KILL YOU, even if you're on it for a week or less. President Trump has been irresponsible for suggesting this drug might be helpful in keeping coronavirus patients out of the hospital and off ventilators.
Over the years, medical science has indeed brought us harmful drugs (thalidomide comes to mind) and ineffective drugs. But it looks as though hydroxychloroquine will go down in history as the first politically-incorrect drug.
Since they’ve gone on and on so much about the risks of taking this drug, I got curious and decided to do a little research. So, check these bad boys out: signs of an allergic reaction, such as “rash; hives; itching; red, itching, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing or talking; unusual hoarseness or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat. Signs of liver problems like dark urine, feeling tired, not hungry, upset stomach or stomach pain, light-colored stools, throwing up, or yellow skin or eyes. Fever, chills, or sore throat; any unexplained bruising or bleeding; or feeling very tired or weak. Feeling confused. Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there.) Not able to pass urine or change in how much urine is passed. Seizures. Very bad dizziness. Very bad headaches. Very bad joint pain. Vaginal itching or discharge. Diarhhea is common...Rarely, a severe form called C diff-associated diarrhea (CDAD) may happen. Sometimes this has led to a deadly bowel problem (colitis). CDAD may happen during or a few months after taking. Call your doctor right away if you have stomach pain, cramps, or very loose, watery or bloody stools...A very bad skin reaction (Stevens/Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis) may happen. It can cause very bad health problems that may not go away, and sometimes death. Get medical help right away if you have signs like red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin (with or without fever); red or irritated eyes; or sores in your mouth, throat, nose or eyes...Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away: stomach pain or diarrhea, upset stomach or throwing up. These are not all the side effects that may occur...This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects or risks that may apply to this medicine.”
Wow, that IS overwhelming. I'm not so sure I should ever take this medicine, even for just a few days; It seems you really could die from taking it. The list of possible reactions goes on and on.
But I suppose it’s time to tell you that this is not the list of risks associated with hydroxychloroquine. This list was taken directly from the insert that came in the bag from my drugstore yesterday along with my prescription for an antibiotic called Cephalexin. I’ve been prescribed this exact same drug numerous times in my life, even when I was a very young child with sinus infections; it went under the brand name Keflex. How could my doctor have been so irresponsible as to prescribe it for me? How could my parents have taken such a risk? But here I am --- I lived to tell the tale!
Just a little something to put this issue into perspective. If President Trump had touted Keflex as a way to (in my case) prevent infection after a relatively minor outpatient procedure, the media would be screaming that this is really a very dangerous drug and his ignorance is killing people.
As for me –- because I HAVE done my research –- if I do come down with COVID-19 (actually, I think my husband and I both had it last winter and want to take the antibody test), I will immediately ask my doctor for just three things: hydroxychloroquine, the “Z-pack,” and zinc. Anyone who has a problem with that can go take a long walk inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology.