March 27, 2020
The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine has recently become aware that some consumers may mistake chloroquine phosphate used to treat disease in aquarium fish for FDA-approved drugs (used to treat malaria and certain other conditions in humans) that are being studied as a COVID-19 treatment for humans. Unfortunately, we have learned that one person in the United States has died after he and his wife reportedly took chloroquine used to treat their fish in an attempt to prevent COVID-19; his wife also became very ill. We are continuing to investigate this incident.
While FDA is aware of the use of unapproved drugs to treat aquarium fish, our primary concern during the COVID-19 pandemic is the imminent threat to the health of consumers who may take animal drugs thinking they are interchangeable with approved human drugs. Chloroquine products sold for aquarium use have not been evaluated by the FDA to determine whether they are safe, effective, properly manufactured, and adequately labeled for use in fish--let alone humans. Products marketed for veterinary use, “for research only,” or otherwise not for human consumption have not been evaluated for safety in humans. People should not take any form of chloroquine unless it has been prescribed by a licensed healthcare provider and is obtained through a legitimate source.
We are also concerned that some consumers may give their pets or livestock chloroquine to treat or prevent COVID-19. If consumers have concerns about the health of their animals, they should consult with a licensed veterinarian.
The agency continues to work with online marketplaces to remove chloroquine intended for aquarium use, and many products have been removed based on these efforts. Please help us protect public health by alerting your members to be wary of anyone claiming to have a product to prevent or cure COVID-19 and to help safeguard human and animal health by reporting any of these products to FDA-COVID-19-Fraudulent-Products@fda.hhs.gov or 1-888-InfoFDA (1-888-463-6332).
We recognize this is a challenging time and urge you to continue practicing social distancing by sharing this information electronically.
Thank you for your support. Please stay safe and healthy.
Dr. Steven Solomon
Director of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine