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Thursday, March 26, 2020

How Do You Protect People From Their Own Stupidity?

     At what point can someone’s rights to make their own decisions about their own care be overridden? At what point should professionals intervene to force someone to accept help even if they don't want it? 
     I read recently that a test is being tried in Israel that includes LED lighting in the ground to alert people looking down at their phones that the light is red so they will not inadvertently walk into traffic.
     The terror of getting COVID-19 has caused havoc and in the process it has also caused a few people to show their utter stupidity. All these talking heads and "experts" tossing out buzzwords aren't helping. 
      My wife is in health care and a nurse friend told her of a recent experience while she was waiting in line to pick up her regular medicine at the pharmacy in the hospital where she works. A "lady" suddenly began yelling at her to keep her distance and berated her for even being out and told her that it was people like her that were responsible for the spread of this disease. The "lady's" actions were totally irrational. 
     Clinical trials of an anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria and some auto-immune conditions such as lupus in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin were set to begin in New York. Before the tests even began some "experts" claimed that existing evidence of the drug's effect on coronavirus is limited and largely anecdotal. I suspect some of this had to with the fact that President Trump who advocated hydroxychloroquine is so despised by some that they rebel against everything he says. 
     His enthusiasm for the drug, misplaced or not, has lead to some people blaming him for prompting the stockpiling of the drug and thereby limiting access to it for lupus patients and...get this...fatally misinformed attempts to self-medicate. 
     Also, apparently it's President Trump's fault that in an attempt to ward off the coronavirus, an Arizona couple in their 60s ingested chloroquine phosphate which killed the man and and landed his wife in critical care. They took the drug after hearing President Trump promote it...only it wasn't the same drug that the President was promoting. The lady stated she was in the pantry stacking dog food and just saw it sitting in the back shelf and thought it was stuff the President was talking about on TV. 
     In what can only be described as irresponsible journalism, NBC News interviewed the woman and slanted the article so it appeared to be the President's fault. She said, “My advice, is “don’t believe anything that the President says and his people because they don’t know what they’re talking about.” In other words, what happened to her and her husband is President Trump's fault, not their own!
     Forbes ran a slanted article, too. They stated President Trump incorrectly announced that the FDA had fast-tracked approval of the drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for treatment of COVID-19. President Trump added that, "The nice part is, it’s been around for a long time, so we know that if it—if things don’t go as planned, it’s not going to kill anybody.” 
     The next paragraph in the article confirmed that the couple actually took the wrong product. Now, there is a pharmaceutical version of chloroquine phosphate (Aralen); it is a very expensive drug used to treat or prevent malaria infections. It is also used to treat amebiasis. Generic chloroquine phosphate is covered by most Medicare and insurance plans and the lowest GoodRx price is around $74.38, but the average retail price of $494.50. 
     Again, this is not what these people took. They took what they thought was the drug President Trump mentioned and within thirty minutes they were in the hospital. 
     Prior to the Arizona couple's unfortunate mishap there had been a March headline from Valley News Live, a local news network serving TV stations in North Dakota that said "Fish tank additive may treat coronavirus." That headline was wrong, dead wrong. Fish tank cleaners containing chloroquine phosphate are not the same as the prescription drugs nor are they suitable for human consumption. 
     A number of years ago the publication, Advanced Aquarist, an online magazine designed to foster a greater appreciation of aquariums and aquatic life heralded three forms of chloroquine to treat fish diseases and its effectiveness in treating certain parasites in saltwater aquariums. Good news for aquarium owners. 
     Recently one online aquarium retailer was sold out and actually included in its terms of use that customers agree to use chloroquine "ONLY in the treatment and maintenance of ornamental fish. ... We agree not to intentionally divert these chemicals for any other use." 
     How can people who use a product used to treat fish and clean aquariums be protected from themselves and prevented from taking it to ward off the flu? They can't.

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