A patient found positive to Covid-19 irresponsibly visited a Cyprus pharmacy on Thursday in search of chloroquine, a drug that is not for sale, a senior officer at the Health Insurance Organisation told state radio on Friday.
Gnosia Achniotou of HIO said that the patient, who should have been at home, had initially visited a private doctor not registered with Gesy, and when the latter could not prescribe the drug through the system, the patient decided to take the prescription and visit in person one of the 12 pharmacies authorised to stock drugs used to treat Coronavirus cases.
“This is completely unacceptable. A person found positive to the virus cannot go outside. These drugs are sent at home by competent services. These drugs are not for sale and are only provided by doctor prescription,” Achniotou said.
Separately, Cyprus Pharmaceutical Association president Eleni Piera-Isseyegh said that citizens insist showing up at pharmacies asking for chloroquine, and urges the public to stop doing so.
“Chloroquine is not some drug you can take for a headache. Chloroquine is only provided to patients with Coronavirus and only if the doctor recommends such a treatment.
“Other than the side effects that can be caused by the wrong use of this drug, this is a drug only given by prescription, without which we cannot give it to anyone,” she emphasised.
The Ministry of Health in an announcement yesterday warned that serious side-effects could emerge from unchecked use of chloroquine.
“Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are drugs that are currently approved for malaria and certain autoimmune diseases and are still being investigated worldwide for use in the treatment of Covid-19,” it said, emphasising that its effectiveness in treating Coronavirus has not yet been proven in studies.
“Both drugs can have serious side effects especially in high doses or when combined with other drugs.
“Prescriptions should not exceed recommended guidelines except when used in clinical trials or within the framework of national protocols,” the Health Ministry said.
Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said separately that “these drugs do not work for prevention or for curing Covid-19.
“What we know — and is still in a trial phase — is that they help in reducing symptoms and that, based on our evidence so far, they generally prevent the patient’s condition from worsening,” Ioannou said.