Public warned about potential harm with unproven therapies for COVID-19
Published 11:11 PDT, Thu March 26, 2020
College of Pharmacists of British Columbia joins with College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia, and B.C. College of Nursing Professionals to issue warning on the use of unproven treatments and medications for COVID-19.
As the COVID-19 global health pandemic continues to impact nearly every aspect of our lives, health professionals are becoming increasingly aware of online and social media-driven conversations about the use of antibiotics and antiviral therapies that are prescribed to treat Malaria, HIV/AIDS and other conditions to treat COVID-19 patients.
Although all British Columbians are hopeful a cure or treatment can be found quickly, it is critical to note that at this time, a proven treatment for COVID-19 does not exist.
“It is important to understand that there are potential harms to the patient, risks to our understanding of what is truly a beneficial treatment or not, and depleting access to therapies known to be helpful or essential in other disease states. For these reasons, the use of unproven therapies for COVID 19 is not recommended outside clinical trials,” says the BC Centre for Disease Control.
These unproven treatment claims may include, but are not limited to, the following drugs: hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, azithromycin, lopinavir/ritonavir (Kaletra) and colchicine.
Health professionals all have a responsibility to their patients and to their profession to focus only on evidence-based care and not yield to well-intentioned patient pressure around unproven and potentially dangerous uses of existing medications.
Doing so could present significant health risks to those patients as well as other unintended consequences such as critical shortages of these existing medications for patients who need them to treat other conditions.
Information around COVID-19 is rapidly evolving and new recommendations and evidence may become available with time.
Physicians and nurse practitioners are being reminded of their obligation not prescribe these therapies for COVID-19 outside the context of a clinical trial, and pharmacists are being instructed not to dispense them if they do.
For more information on the unproven therapies for COVID-19, see:
- Joint Statement on the Unproven Therapies for COVID-19: https://www.bcpharmacists.org/readlinks/joint-statement-unproven-therapies-covid-19
- Clinical Reference Group Recommendation: Unproven Therapies for COVID-19, BC Center for Disease Control
- Background: Unproven Therapies for COVID-19, BC Center for Disease Control
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