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Chloroquine phosphate obtained from an aquarium or pond supply shop is NOT safe for human use, despite some confusion after hearing the President link the compound with COVID-19 treatment. Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh

Chloroquine phosphate, a drug used to treat aquarium fish parasites, has become a controversial subject after an Arizona couple attempted to self-medicate for COVID-19 using the drug, believing that it was equivalent to the anti-malaria drug of the same name.

The FDA is still investigating the case of the couple in Arizona, one of whom died from using the drug inappropriately. NBC News reported on the couple, both in their 60s, who became deathly ill after they ingested fish food that contained chloroquine phosphate.

According to NBC News, the man's wife said she had watched televised briefings during which President Donald Trump talked about the potential benefits of chloroquine.

The FDA is now concerned that more people may use the aquarium fish treatment to self-medicate.

"Animal drugs are not interchangeable with human drugs; chloroquine products that are sold for aquarium use have not been evaluated to determine whether they are safe, effective, properly manufactured, or adequately labelled for fish, let alone humans. Nobody should take any form of chloroquine unless it has been prescribed by a licensed healthcare provider and obtained through a legitimate source," said the FDA in in a release.

Following the incident in Arizona, the FDA has been working with online marketplaces to remove all chloroquine that is intended for aquarium use to prevent further tragedy. Many products have already been removed from store shelves, both physical and online, through these efforts.

Currently, there is no approved drug or vaccine that can prevent or cure COVID-19. Any product that is being sold with such a claim should be reported to the FDA via email or phone: FDA-COVID-19-Fraudulent-Products@fda.hhs.gov or 1-888-InfoFDA (1-888-463-6332).

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This story was compiled by an NCPA staff reporter from submitted news. To see a list of our editorial staff please visit our staff directory.