Anvisa warns about Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine against Covid-19

In times of tension such as the Coronavirus pandemic , the search for cures and medications becomes, in general, more intense.

Several laboratories and scientists around the world have been working to find a medicine for the disease that, until then, has no curative resources.

In the midst of this search, many news are published in the media and, although unproven, often cause the consumer to take hasty actions.

Recently, the possible beneficial action of the substances Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine was disclosed for the treatment of COVID-19, the Coronavirus.

This caused many people to go to pharmacies to buy these medications, even without showing symptoms of the infection and, above all, without receiving medical advice.

What happens is that, although promising, the studies carried out so far are not sufficient to prove the effectiveness of substances in the treatment of Coronavirus.

Its use without medical indication can trigger serious adverse reactions or complications.

It is also worth mentioning that if the drugs are approved in fact, they will act as treatment and not as prevention.

What is the difference between Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine?

Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine are 2 drugs used in the treatment of Malaria and some autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Autoimmune diseases are those in which the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body.

They occur when the body cannot distinguish between normal cells and invading cells.

Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine, despite being different substances, have similar indications and action.

What differentiates them, in general, is that Hydroxychloroquine is a substance derived from Chloroquine and has less toxic activity.

Thus, some side effects may be milder when performing the administration with Hydroxychloroquine.

On the other hand, Chloroquine generally acts more quickly and effectively.

In general, its uses vary according to the clinical condition of each patient.

What is the use of Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine?

Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine are drugs that are used to treat different diseases, including skin diseases and autoimmune problems.

According to the package inserts, the drugs are used to treat:

  • Rheumatism and skin problems;
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – inflammation of the joints;
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis – inflammation of the joints in children;
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus – inflammatory disease;
  • Discoid lupus erythematosus – inflammatory disease;
  • Dermatological problems related to sunlight;
  • Malaria – disease caused by protozoa.

Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine cure Coronavirus?

There is still not enough data to affirm the efficacy of the substances Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19, the Coronavirus.

Recently, some studies carried out by Chinese researchers, in a laboratory with cells in-vitro (outside the living organism), pointed out that both drugs have the potential to inhibit the entry and advance of the virus in the cells of the organism.

Despite this, the research was carried out on a small number of people, not providing enough information to determine the real effectiveness, or not, of the drugs in combating the Coronavirus.

In the last few weeks, another study carried out in France pointed out some more results related to the use of Hydroxychloroquine.

About 36 patients participated in the research and the medication was administered as follows:

  • 14 patients received doses of only hydroxychloroquine;
  • 6 patients received doses of Hydroxychloroquine in combination with Azithromycin (an antibiotic);
  • 16 patients were not medicated with either.

As a result, all 6 patients who received Hydroxychloroquine in combination with Azithromycin were cured after 6 days.

Among patients who received doses of only hydroxychloroquine, about 57% had their viral load zeroed in the body.

Even with an apparently positive result, this study was also carried out with a very small group of people, being unable to provide conclusive information about the medications.

Other research is being carried out to prove the curative potential of drugs, however, Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine are not yet indicated for the treatment of the disease.

Has the Ministry of Health authorized the use of Hydroxychloroquine for patients with Coronavirus?

In recent days, the Ministry of Health has authorized the use of Hydroxychloroquine, on an experimental basis, for patients infected with COVID-19 who are in serious condition.

The release was performed only for cases in which there are no other treatment alternatives.

Despite the decision, for patients who are not in a serious condition, Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine are not yet indicated for the treatment of Coronavirus.

Can the use of Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine prevent coronavirus infection?

No . The use of the drugs Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine as a means of prevention against Coronavirus is not indicated.

In addition to there being no evidence about the drugs protecting against infection, administration without medical advice can put the patient’s life at risk.

This is because medications can cause serious side effects, affecting regions such as the nervous system, eyeball and even the heart.

Are chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine released by ANVISA?

-Yeah . The drugs Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine are registered with the National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA), however, only for the treatment of diseases: arthritis , lupus erythematosus, photosensitive diseases and malaria.

The use of drugs for the treatment of COVID-19 is not approved by the agency.

Who can buy Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine?

Since news were released regarding the possible curative actions of Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of Coronavirus, many people have gone to pharmacies to buy these drugs that, until then, could be purchased without a special prescription.

Because of this great demand, on March 20, 2020, ANVISA included the drugs in the list of special control drugs.

In this way, they can only be purchased upon presentation of a special white recipe, in two copies.

This aims to avoid the shortage of medications on the market, preventing or hindering access by patients with medical indication for use.

Those who already use the medication will be able to continue using their simple prescription for the next 30 days.

What side effects can chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine cause?

Like most medications, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine can cause side effects in some patients. If used indiscriminately, these effects can be intensified even more.

For this reason, self-medication is highly contraindicated, since it can cause, in addition to adverse reactions, other complications not listed in the package insert, since the side effects in people with COVID-19 are not known.

Among others, the possible reactions of drugs are:

Disorders of the immune system

Problems related to the immune system, which the use of medications can cause, are:

  • Hives – rash on the skin;
  • Angioedema – swelling in subcutaneous or mucous regions;
  • Bronchospasm – contraction of the bronchi, which can cause wheezing.

Blood and lymphatic system disorders

The reactions that can affect the blood and the lymphatic system are:

  • Aplastic anemia – failure of the bone marrow to produce the correct number of elements in the blood;
  • Bone marrow depression – decrease in the number of red blood cells;
  • Agranulocytosis – decrease in some leukocytes in the blood;
  • Leukopenia – decrease in white blood cells;
  • Thrombocytopenia – decrease in the number of platelets in the blood.

Disorders of the nervous system

Regarding the nervous system, the use of medications can cause:

Disorders of the skin and subcutaneous tissue

Side effects that affect the skin include:

  • Rash;
  • Rash with an increase in white blood cells;
  • Itch;
  • Change in the color of the mucous membranes;
  • Hair loss;
  • Hair discoloration;
  • Photosensitivity;
  • Exfoliative dermatitis – changes in the skin and flaking;
  • Toxic epidermal necrolysis – generalized blistering;
  • Stevens Johnson syndrome – allergic reaction characterized by the appearance of blisters on mucous membranes and large areas of the body;
  • Erythema multiforme – red spots, blisters and ulcerations.

Eye disorders

Vision-related reactions are:

  • Blurred vision;
  • Retinopathy – retinal disease;
  • Maculopathy – disease that affects the central part of the retina;
  • Macular degeneration.

With the spread of the new Coronavirus, more and more news related to cures and potential remedies are being released. So it is important to be aware of what information is true and reliable.

Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine, despite showing promising results, have not yet been approved as a treatment for the disease.

Studies are still being carried out to prove the effectiveness, or not, of the medication.

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