Is it safe to take hydroxychloroquine?

‘I do not recommend that people take this drug,’ says Dr. Ruth Berggren

President Donald Trump says he is taking a drug to prevent symptoms of COVID-19. But is this a good idea?

SAN ANTONIO – President Donald Trump has said he is taking hydroxychloroquine, a drug commonly used to treat lupus or malaria, as a preventive measure to battle COVID-19.

KSAT viewers wanted us to ask local Doctor Ruth Berggren from UT Health, “Is this a good idea”?

Berggren is familiar with the drug and says while it is a good drug with many different uses, it has many side effects.

“We only use prescription medication when we know that the benefits are going to outweigh the risks and the public needs to know the risks of hydroxychloroquine are not trivial,” Berggren said.

Some of the effects include:

  • Heart issues: Abnormal heart rhythms and weakening of the heart muscles which could lead to sudden cardiac death.
  • Suppression of bone marrow: Dr. Berggren says this could lead to an even weaker immune system because bone marrow is not making the cells needed to fight infections.
  • Eye toxicity: The chemicals can affect the eye causing conjunctivitis.

Dr. Berggren says there is no evidence that the drug has any effect on COVID-19. The research still being done on hydroxychloroquine.

“We are going to get data and I imagine it’s going to be a matter of weeks and maybe months, but we’ll have real solid information. Until that happens, I do not recommend that people take this drug,” Berggren said.

Your coronavirus questions answered: Dr. Ruth Berggren takes viewer questions about the coronavirus in San Antonio

Find more answers and ask your own questions on our SAQ page. Watch anchor Steve Spriester ask local leaders your questions weeknights at 6 p.m. on KSAT12 and 9 p.m. on KSAT-TV and You can also sign up for our free SAQ newsletter to get answers to the most common questions in your inbox.

About the Author:

Alyssa Medina is the Video-On-Demand Producer and has worked at KSAT since 2016. She creates exclusive content for the KSAT-TV streaming app. Some of her most notable contributions focus on race and culture or health and wellness. She's created the segments 'Creating Black History in S.A.' and 'New Week. New You."