Off-label hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine use for COVID-19 poses threat to Africa

Despite a lack of trials demonstrating the efficacy of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19, promotion and use of the two treatments has led to shortages, self-treatment and fatal overdoses, according to a perspective published in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. The perspective suggests that African countries “strongly consider” putting prescription monitoring programs in place to ensure that off-label use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine is appropriate and beneficial for the treatment of COVID-19.

Safety issues regarding the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine — as well as other “substandard and falsified medical products” — and related matters, including shortages and inflated pricing, put all countries at risk, but the potential issues may pose an especially large threat to Africa because of limitations specific to the continent’s health care system, according to the perspective.