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What is hydroxychloroquine; drug used to treat COVID-19 patients touted by President Trump

The FDA has allowed the emergency use of hydroxychloroquine, which has been used to treat patients with malaria and lupus.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Medicine used to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis is now being given to coronavirus patients. Hydroxychloroquine is being used by Jacksonville doctor Danny Pulido with success.

"One, we've already discharged home after he did a full recovery. Another patient is almost off oxygen. The third patient is already feeling a whole lot better and the oxygen demand is starting to come down," Pulido told First Coast News.

Hydroxychloroquine has been used for decades to treat autoimmune conditions and doctors say this drug may calm the immune system's response to COVID-19.

There could be some side effects including headache, nausea, stomach pain and vomiting. There are clinical trials happening, and Pulido says right now, the results look promising. 

"We do weigh the risks and benefits and feel the benefits of a trial, of the medication, outweigh the risks," he said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered shipments to be delivered to hospitals in several counties, but Pulido warns healthy people should not take hydroxychloroquine just to feel protected.

"I don't think the risk-benefit ratio favors a patient taking prophylactic medication," Pulido suggested.

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