PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - A drug that’s been linked to the possible treatment of COVID-19 may have dangerous side effects, according to a cardiologist at Oregon Health & Science University.

Dr. Eric Stecker is raising some red flags about hydroxychloroquine, which has also been used to treat malaria and lupus.

At the end of March, the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency order to allow hydroxychloroquine to be disturbed and used for certain patients with COVID-19.

Stecker said the drug can cause abnormal heart rhythms and potentially a heart attack.

He is urging doctors that prescribe hydroxychloroquine to also monitor those patients for arrythmia.

“Any medication doctors use, the benefits have to be weighed against the potential risks so that we can be sure the benefits outweigh the risks. And for this medication, it's tricky because the benefits are yet unproven. There's reason for optimism, some optimism. But we really need more information to know whether this medication can help to treat COVID-19 patients,” Stecker said.

The Oregon Poison Control Center recently warned people not to try a “remedy” for COVID-19 they see on social media. The center acknowledged that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are being studied as potential treatments for COVID-19, but they must be administered by a doctor to avoid toxicity or even death.

All the talk of hydroxychloroquine on a national level has opened the door to potential price gouging and hoarding, as well.

This week, the Portland Police Bureau on Twitter encouraged anyone who experiences or hears about inflated prices for prescription drugs to report it.

“If we’re able to get ahead of these types of things, see these things happening, we can make the public even more aware and investigate those cases as they’re occurring,” said Police Chief Jami Resch.

Doctors also say there is a danger that people who rely on the drug to treat lupus or other medical conditions will now have trouble getting it, due to coronavirus-related demand.

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


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(1) comment


Chemotherapy isn’t kind to the body either but a lot of people are willing to use it.

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