Doctor Cautions Enthusiasm For Possible Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cure

Tuesday, March 24th 2020, 3:10 pm
By: Karl Torp

A local medical expert who prescribes the malaria medication now being touted as a possible cure for coronavirus (COVID-19) is tempering enthusiasm for the drug.

Dr. Joan Merrill with the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation specializes in treating Lupus.

She now follows encouraging reports around the globe of hydroxychloroquine’s effectiveness in fighting COVID-19.

It appears to be working.

“It can keep the virus from getting inside their cells, like the cells in your lungs if the virus attacks,” said Dr. Merrill.

But the doctor questions of the effects the medication for Malaria, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Lupus could have on elderly patients taking other drugs.

“It might be interacting in ways we aren't familiar with,” said Dr. Merrill.

Those answers, according to the researcher, will come with more time and trials -- not overnight in the middle of a global pandemic.

“I have the experience of seeing promising drugs that look really good, that don’t really work,” warned Dr. Merrill.

Hydroxychloroquine can be prescribed by your doctor now.

However, the governor’s recently signed executive order limits the reason for the medication's prescribed use.

The order is designed to protect supplies for patients already taking the medication.

Dr. Merrill blames what she calls a nationwide shortage of hydroxychloroquine to the coronavirus.

She understands the hope behind the medication, but cautions its lack of trial history in fighting COVID-19.

“It’s worth testing,” said Dr. Merrill.