Hydroxychloroquine should not be taken as COVID-19 preventative, doctor says

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- This week, President Trump touted the anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, as a possible treatment for COVID-19.

Trump said he has been taking the pill for more than a week, even though he doesn't have any COVID-19 symptoms.

RELATED: Despite risks, Trump says he's taking hydroxychloroquine to protect against coronavirus

"The FDA has specifically warned us not to use hydroxycholorquine under these circumstances. I have been contacted by at least a dozen patients in the past few months about taking hydroxycholoroquine preventatively, and I have told all of them that I think it's a bad idea," said Dr. Joshua Septimus, an internist at Houston Methodist Hospital.

Dr. Septimus said not only is taking hydroxycholorquine a bad idea, but taking the drug could actually cause harm.

"We have plenty of research on the risk of taking hydroxychloroquine. The big ones include heart disease," said Dr. Septimus.

He said it could cause problems concerning heart failure, arrhythmia and eye disease.

The drug is normally used for autoimmune diseases or malaria prophylaxis. If it's taken in cases when it's not needed, there's concern that could lead to a shortage for those who need it.

While we all want a solution, Dr. Septimus said we have to be patient.

"I know everybody is looking for a magic bullet, but science just doesn't work that way," Dr. Septimus said.

Follow Marla Carter on Facebook and Twitter.
Copyright © 2020 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.