Mar 23, 2020 - Health

Man dies after self-medicating with chloroquine phosphate

A worker inspects chloroquine tablets. Photo: Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

"A man has died and his wife is under critical care after the couple, both in their 60s, ingested chloroquine phosphate, an additive commonly used at aquariums to clean fish tanks," which is also part of one of the antimalaria drugs that President Trump has mentioned in recent days, according to Banner Health, the hospital system that treated both patients.

Why it matters: People who attempt to self-medicate risk serious side effects or death, and it's why any messaging about chloroquine and the related hydroxychloroquine should emphasize that these drugs have not been approved to prevent or treat the new coronavirus.

Worth noting: The malaria drug comes in tablet form, but the type the couple used was a toxic substance — not medication.

  • The man's wife told NBC News: "I had it in the house because I used to have koi fish."

Go deeper: Trump touts drugs not yet approved by FDA for treating coronavirus

Editor's note: The story and headline have been corrected to reflect the fact that the form of chloroquine the couple ingested was used in aquariums (not the medication).

Go deeper

Trump's coronavirus briefings see big audiences. Some argue that's bad

Photo: MandelL Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump's daily White House novel coronavirus task force briefings are attracting record viewership, but some critics say TV news networks shouldn't air them because he and administration officials have dispensed misinformation about COVID-19.

Why it matters: Live briefings can be difficult for networks to fact-check in real time. Critics argue that airing the press events unfiltered on a daily basis will mislead the public about the pandemic, putting Americans' health and safety at risk.

Go deeperArrowMar 26, 2020 - Health

Special status for coronavirus drug caught health officials off guard

President Trump and FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

When an experimental coronavirus treatment received a special designation from the Food and Drug Administration on Monday, it came as a surprise to the government's top health care officials — including the FDA commissioner.

Why it matters: Top officials aren't normally involved in everyday regulatory decisions. But this particular designation was particularly controversial, as critics quickly questioned whether it was giving an unfair financial advantage to one drugmaker in the midst of a pandemic.

Go deeperArrowMar 26, 2020 - Health

Washington state officials confirm second coronavirus death in U.S.

Coronavirus contained within the endoplasmatic reticulum of a vero E6 cell. Photo: BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images

A second person has died in the U.S. from the novel coronavirus — and just like the first one, it's in Washington state, King County Public Health confirmed in a statement Sunday night.

The big picture: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) declared a state of emergency Sunday in response to new infections in the state. Washington now has 13 cases. Several of those infected are from the Life Care Center of Kirkland nursing home. Unlike the first coronavirus death in the U.S., the man in his 70s with underlying health conditions who died on Saturday was a resident of the home. Both patients died in EvergreenHealth Medical Center in Kirkland.

Go deeper: Washington state officials confirm first coronavirus death in U.S.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details, including Washington case numbers.