More hydroxychloroquine headed to Florida amid COVID-19 pandemic

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – On Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ medical roundtable on COVID-19 focused heavily on the drug hydroxychloroquine, which is typically used to treat malaria, arthritis and lupus, but has been touted by President Trump as a possible treatment for the novel coronavirus.

A million doses of hydroxychloroquine are set to arrive in the state capital Wednesday and will be distributed throughout the state.

DeSantis shared a testimonial from an unnamed COVID-19 patient treated with the drug during his medical roundtable.

“You guys saved my life and you know you did,” the patient said in a prerecorded video.

“This really isn't like the flu, I mean this is some really serious complications and it can go downhill very fast and so to be able to have a variety of options is very, very important,” said DeSantis.

Doctors joining the governor agreed hydroxychloroquine is a beneficial tool to have on hand.

“It’s being tested, but we’re not sure whether it will work. Along with that, we are using several other therapies,” said Dr. Sunil Kumar, a critical care and pulmonary physician at Broward Health.

DeSantis said that people should not self-medicate with the drug.

“I would not recommend just starting these as an outpatient, because, obviously, patients cannot be monitored, and again, the medications themselves can put the patient at risk,” said Dr. Carlos Campo.

Kumar emphasized more research is needed.

“I think we need to continue with aggressive efforts to do a randomized control trial, which is being done,” said Kumar.

The main side effect of hydroxychloroquine highlighted during the panel was arrhythmia.

In a hospital setting, doctors use an EKG to monitor patients being treated with the drug.

There are reports that diverting hydroxychloroquine to COVID-19 patients has made the drug harder to get for patients suffering from lupus and arthritis.