FAQs - Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine > Why should chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine be provided by prescription through reliable sources only?

Why should chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine be provided by prescription through reliable sources only?

posted on 7:15 PM, April 14, 2020

There have been reports in the U.S. and Nigeria of toxicity and death following attempts to self-medicate or alternatively “make do” with commercial formulations of chloroquine phosphate manufactured for use as antiprotozoal aquarium cleaning agents (March, 2020). In addition, there has been longstanding concern regarding counterfeit (fake) antimalarials deliberately made to look like brand name drugs. They may have no active ingredients, have less than the required amount of active ingredient, or may contain ingredients which are not what is described on the package label. Counterfeiters tend to focus on the more expensive brands. However, substandard drugs are found even among cheaper products because some manufacturers try to avoid costly quality control and good manufacturing practices. A review of reports published from 2011 to 2017 reveals that between 4 and 92% of antimalarials examined were substandard in some fashion (Walker 2018). Earlier studies reported between 26 – 44% of anti-malarial medications from a variety of South-East Asian and sub-Saharan African nations were of poor quality or otherwise failed quality control tests. In March 2020, Cameroon was notified by the World Health Organization of the circulation of counterfeit anti-malaria drugs in its territory and they have seized fake chloroquine from at least 300 pharmacies and hospitals.



CDC: Malaria: Counterfeit and Poor Quality Drugs. Available at:  [last accessed 4/13/2020]

FDA: Counterfeit Medicine. Available at: [last accessed 4/13/2020]

Kindzeka ME. Cameroon seizes fake coronavirus drugs sold by scammers. Voice of America News. Available at:  [last accessed 4/13/2020]

Walker EJ, Peterson GM, Grech J., et al. Are we doing enough to prevent poor-quality antimalarial medicines in the developing world?. BMC Public Health 2018;18:630.

Weaver AA, Lieberman M. Paper test cards for presumptive testing of very low quality antimalarial medications. Am J Trop Med Hyg 2015;92(6 Suppl):17-23. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.14-0384.