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Caution on chloroquine as Canada joins global drug-testing effort: Tam

Last Updated Mar 23, 2020 at 11:43 am PDT

FILE - Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam gestures as she reponds to a question during a news conference on the COVID-19 virus in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Summary

Canada's top doctor is warning against the use of untested drugs to treat COVID-19

Dr. Theresa Tam's warning comes amid buzz around an anti-malaria medication

Donald Trump caused a stir last weekend when he touted chloroquine as a possible treatment

OTTAWA — Canada’s top public health official is warning against the use of untested drugs to treat COVID-19 amid buzz around the potential effectiveness of an anti-malaria medication.

President Donald Trump caused a stir last weekend when he touted chloroquine as a possible treatment for virus victims, and even decreed it has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

That turned out not to be true, but it did spark interest in the drug around the world.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says chloroquine is just one of a “vast suite” of existing drugs being tested for use against the virus and that the medication should not be taken until those scientific tests are complete.

She says to do otherwise might not only be ineffective, it could also be dangerous, as all drugs come with side effects.

Canada is part of a massive global study started by the World Health Organization to look into the use chloroquine and other potential treatments for COVID-19.