Here's Who Actually Needs Hydroxychloroquine

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COVID-19 is, as you've probably heard by now, a novel coronavirus, meaning we don't fully know how to treat it or prevent it yet. A true vaccine is months, maybe more than a year away, at least; it's understandable to reach for whatever seems to work now. Yet despite what the White House says, the latest wonder drug isn't a reliable cure for COVD-19 — and any attempts to stockpile it are hurting the people who need it most.

It's called hydroxychloroquine, a generic drug developed decades ago to treat malaria. The president has been touting its benefits in the fight against coronavirus for weeks, but the truth is that it's too early to tell if this treatment really does anything in this pandemic. There is one peer-reviewed study that was published in France, but there are lots of problems with how that small study was set up. In other words, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Relying too much on promises of a miracle cure can have dangerous consequences. In late March, an Arizona couple saw hydroxychloroquine on the ingredients list of an aquarium cleaner; the husband died and the wife was in critical care after they ingested the substance. Even those seeking out regulated and prescribed uses for the drug are creating shortages for those who take it to treat lupus and other diseases for which it's a known factor. In short, take hydroxychloroquine off your shopping lists. If you do fall ill, seek help from a licensed medical professional.