hydroxychloroquine canada

Canada just received a shipment of 5 million hydroxychloroquine tablets from India

The federal government has just received a massive shipment of the contentious medication hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug that U.S. President Donald Trump has famously advocated for as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

On May 4, five million of the pills arrived in Toronto from India — the world's largest manufacturer of the drug — as part of an ongoing strategic international fight against COVID-19.

The pharmaceutical is just one of a few that various governments and the World Health Organization are studying during the pandemic, as it may have the potential to reduce the severity of patient symptoms, illness duration, and mortality rates.

Others include the buzzworthy remdesivir, the latest to be endorsed by the White House, which has also shown promising results.

But despite some positive findings, hydroxychloroquine and sister drug chloroquine are not proven (nor flawless) remedies, and they can have potentially fatal side effects, especially when self-administered without doctor supervision.

The medication, which is commonly used to treat malaria and conditions like lupus and arthritis, has been found to extend the heart's QT interval in some cases, leading to cardiac arrhythmia and, potentially, death — something that some researchers think may be worsened by concurrent treatment with azithromycin, an antibiotic also being tested to fight COVID-19.

This was the impetus for Health Canada's recent warning about the drugs, in which it expressed concern "that some people may be directly buying and using chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to prevent or treat COVID-19 without a prescription."

"Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine may cause serious side effects, including serious heart rhythm problems," the public statement from April 25 reads. "The risk of these side effects may increase at higher doses, or if the drugs are used in combination with other drugs, such as the antibiotic azithromycin."

Internet searches about the medication worldwide have skyrocketed while demand for it has surged more than 1,000 per cent since Trump first spoke about it in March, leading to shortages.

Public figures such as Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk have also championed the pharmaceutical, but there are expert proponents on both sides of the issue, both for and against using it to treat SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

New Brunswick showed success with adopting the drug early on (at first before and then despite Health Canada warnings), and managed to recover all of its 118 cases of the infectious disease before another new one arose today.

No medication has yet been approved by the FDA or Health Canada for treatment of the 2019 novel coronavirus.

Lead photo by

Consulate General of India

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