A man died after ingesting an additive used to clean fish tanks — which 
included a pharmaceutical drug touted by President Trump and others as a 
potential coronavirus cure.

Within 30 minutes of taking chloroquine phosphate, the man in his 60s 
experienced “immediate effects” and had to be admitted to a nearby Banner 
Health hospital, the medical system in Arizona said in a press release Monday.

His wife, also in her 60s, is in critical condition after taking the additive, 
which is used in aquariums to kill some organisms, like algae, that may harm 

The man’s wife told NBC News she’d watched press briefings where Trump talked 
about the potential benefits of chloroquine — and she recalled the name from 
the treatment she used on her koi fish.

“I saw it sitting on the back shelf and thought, ‘Hey, isn’t that the stuff 
they’re talking about on TV?,'” she told the outlet on the condition of 

The couple mixed a small amount of their fish treatment with a liquid and drank 
it as a way to prevent the coronavirus, she said.

“We were afraid of getting sick.”

Within 20 minutes, both became ill, at first feeling “dizzy and hot.”

Then, “I started vomiting,” the woman told the outlet. “My husband started 
developing respiratory problems and wanted to hold my hand.”

Her husband died shortly after arriving to the hospital.

The cleaning agent ingested by the couple has the same active ingredient as the 
anti-malaria medicine chloroquine but is formulated differently.

Prices of the product on eBay skyrocketed after some studies found that the 
pharmaceutical version, the anti-malarial drug chloroquine, and a derivative of 
it called hydroxychloroquine, were effective in killing the virus in laboratory 

Trump said last week the drug would soon begin to be distributed to treat some 
coronavirus patients. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn clarified that the drug 
would be made available as part of a clinical trial.
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Officials warned people not to take the drugs to treat coronavirus symptoms 
unless it has been specifically prescribed by their doctor.

“The last thing that we want right now is to inundate our emergency departments 
with patients who believe they found a vague and risky solution that could 
potentially jeopardize their health,” said Dr. Daniel Brooks, medical director 
of the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center.

Chloroquine is especially not recommended for use by non-hospitalized patients.

“We are strongly urging the medical community to not prescribe this medication 
to any non-hospitalized patients,” Brooks said.



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