5 Facts To Remember:
- Aralen (the active substance — Chloroquine) is a number-one choice for the treatment of malaria patients.
- This disease is spread by mosquitoes from infected people to healthy ones.
- It occurs in tropical and subtropical regions, the most dangerous ones are Africa and Oceania.
- This drug is also used as a preventative one when one is going to travel to an area where this disease is widespread.
- Another parasite it is effective against is amoebae.
- As of today, it is not officially allowed to be applied in patients with the new coronavirus.
Chloroquine tablets (which can be sold under varied brand names) are one of the bestsellers on the pharma market. Why? Malaria — the infection it is applied for — is one of the most widespread around the globe. Many people believe it is found in Africa mainly. But that is a myth. In practice, it is a real threat to about 50% of people living on our planet. This disease is regularly detected in about 90 countries. Every year, around 250 million people get infected, and more than 600,000 die from it. For example, in the United States, about 2000 cases are registered each month, and about (or over) 50% of such patients are prescribed this exact drug. Why? It is cheap, safe, effective, and commonly sold.
More to the point, as you probably know, today, this product enjoys increased attention due to its supposed potential for Covid-19 (we will definitely talk about that below).
Indications for Use of Chloroquine
- Malaria treatment. This disease starts like the flu or a cold. Patients notice fever, shaking, headaches, general tiredness. Sometimes those symptoms are followed by digestive issues such as pains in the abdomen, vomiting, or diarrhea. Then, how to differentiate malaria from a cold? If you know that you’ve visited an area where this infection is common or live in such a region, it is a convincing argument to turn to your doctor and go through a blood test. Mind that this disease can manifest itself even several months after you returned from your trip. Chloroquine fights this disease by killing the corresponding parasite in the red blood cells.
- Malaria prevention. In case you want to go to the area where this disease is widespread, you are recommended to start preventive therapy in advance to minimize the risk of catching it.
- Amebiasis treatment. It kills this parasite by blocking its autophagy processes.
- Relieving the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases
Today’s Situation with Its Effectiveness against Malaria
There is a widespread myth that this medication does not work anymore. It is connected with the concept of resistance. Like many other harmful microorganisms, Plasmodium falciparum (the parasite causing 50% of events of this infection and the majority of severe and fatal cases) can get adjusted and insensitive to the meds it gets into contact with — it is its method of surviving.
As Chloroquine was the first drug to be applied against this infection, it was administered to a huge number of patients. As a result, in the 1950–1960s, its effectiveness dramatically decreased.
Luckily, about 10 years after doctors stopped using it, they found out that the parasite mentioned got vulnerable to it again. So, now, it is still in use. It is prescribed to those patients who get infected in those areas where the parasite is not currently resistant to this medication. More to the point, there are studies that show that the problem of resistance can be solved by increasing the dosage and frequency of administration, which does not impose any extra health risks.
The Latest Data about Its Use Against Covid-19
The key fact to remember — as of today, it is not recommended for the treatment or prevention of this infection. There is no evidence proving that its therapeutic effect outweighs the associated health risks.
There is a theory that it may speed up the recovery in hospitalized patients with the moderate and severe forms of the disease by providing both antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects. Furthermore, certain studies have shown promising progress, but most of them got canceled, due to safety issues.
Hopefully, the potential of this medicine will be studied further, and it will be added to the protocols and will help to overcome the pandemic.
The Regimen of Administration
|Malaria prevention||Malaria therapy||Amebiasis
|Course duration||2 weeks prior to exposure plus 8 weeks after returning from a dangerous region||3 days||2–3 weeks|
|Dosage||Adults — 500mg (300mg chloroquine base) once per week on the same day
Children — 5mg of base per kg of a patient’s weight
1st day — 1g + 500mg in 6–8 hours
2nd day — 500mg
3rd day — 500mg
1st dose — 10mg base per kg (of body weight)
2nd (in 6 hours) — 5mg base per kg
3rd (in 24 hours) — 5mg base per kg
4th (in 36 hours) — 5mg base per kg
1–2nd days — 1g per day
next 2–3 weeks — 500mg per day
10 Safety Rules to Follow
- Aralen (as well as generic Chloroquine tablets) is a prescription medication. You must strictly follow the regimen and schedule recommended.
- In case you forgot to take a dose, administer it without a delay. But if, according to your schedule, you must take the next one at the nearest time, skip the missed one.
- Take it with a meal to avoid indigestion and other similar problems.
- In case your state does not improve after a few days of the therapy or gets worse, consult your doctor.
- Be sure to warn your doctor if you have any accompanying health problems, especially such as:
- allergies to drugs (including hydroxychloroquine) or foods;
- sight/eye issues;
- hearing disorders;
- kidney/liver diseases;
- skin diseases;
- heart problems;
- low potassium/magnesium blood levels;
- blood diseases;
- enzyme issues;
- alcohol abuse.
- Here are the side effects that require urgent medical aid:
- any sight difficulties or abnormalities;
- any issues with hearing (like ringing or buzzing);
- heart rhythm irregularities;
- problems with breathing;
- sleepiness or fatigue;
- muscle weakness;
- suicidal thoughts or other mental problems.
As for other adverse reactions, which are not critical, turn to your doctor if they interfere with the quality of your life or do not fade away.
- Besides, this medicine can interact with other drugs. Namely, antacids (for example, Magnesium or Aluminum Hydroxide) and diarrhea treatments (Kaolin) can interfere with its absorption, which is why you must make a 4-hour pause prior to or after taking these products. Mixing Chloroquine with Azithromycin may provoke issues with heart rhythm. Also, when combined with diuretics, Chloroquine may increase the risk of potassium and magnesium deficiency.
- It may impose certain risks for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Inform your doctor about such circumstances.
- Avoid driving and other dangerous activities when taking this med as it may cause dizziness. To be on the safe side, at least wait until you find out how your organism reacts to it. Besides, as you know, alcohol can cause similar reactions, so, it is safer to avoid it as well.
- Discuss any vaccination with your doctor. It is known that this medicine suppresses the immune system. In other words, it may prevent the organism from responding to the vaccine administered and forming a decent amount of antibodies.
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