Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine against cancer and COVID-19

This is a non-canonical entry about the FDA’s potential fast-tracking of chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine as a therapy against COVID-19. It should really be considered as a cancer therapy as well.

If I had either cancer or COVID-19, I’d personally try to get some

I pause my usual nonsense to give you some information. None of this should be considered medical advice, only my own personal experience with chloroquine, a somewhat well-known adjunct cancer therapy.

When Alison first got sick, I immediately threw myself into cancer research. By the time four months had passed, I was often asked by doctors and nurses if I was in the medical field myself only because every spare moment I had was spent reading anything and everything I could get my hands on regarding cancer-treatments.

This video was probably one of the most influential things in my research.

In addition to three very well known GBM survivors, the rest of the interviewed are board-certified doctors and researchers from institutions like MD Anderson, Memorial Sloan Kettering, and Lenox Hill – the surgeon that’s interviewed, Dr. Boockvar, was Alison’s last surgeon.

If you go to minute 37, you’ll start to hear about the drug from both the narrator and Dr. Raymond Chang – a Yale MD, formerly of MSKCC. What he says about chloroquine for cancer could easily be applied to COVID-19:

A very nice example (of a repurposed drug) is the use of an old malaria drug – which is dirt cheap – chloroquine, for brain cancer. Nice (clincial) trials have been carried out showing improvement of up to 50% survival time when it’s added to standard chemotherapy. It has almost no side effects.* It’s one pill a day. [This means that the patient doesn’t] need to go to the hospital, get a drip, any of this. It’s dirt cheap. Why not? Well, the FDA hasn’t approved it’s use for this condition. Or the information is not widely disseminated. There’s no big drug company behind the manufacturing of choloroquine to bring to market for this use. Nobody makes much money. [If] suddenly every brain cancer patient takes choloroquine, it adds very little to the bottom line.

It took several months but I ultimately got some for Alison but we were never able to give it to her because she had chronic low white-blood cell counts and the fear was that this would further depress them.

*This is one of the side effects, along with a more common one of retinopathy, although even this is rare and can be tracked by your local ophthalmologist.

How it functions is that it (a) tampers down inflammation, and (b) it blocks viruses from multiplying in the body – the latter is precisely how it was used as an anti-malarial drug.

In hindsight, I wonder if I should have given it to her after all. I wrestle with these questions in my quiet moments, all the goddamn time.

But I digress.

Hydroxychloroquine, like chloroquine, is a synthetic quinine and is a metabolite of base chloroquine because it has an additional oxygen and hydrogen atom (a hydroxide). It’s one of only two drugs currently considered to be fast-tracked by the FDA as a possible cure of COVID-19.

Note that, while chloroquine showed promised in clinical trials for brain cancer, hydroxychloroquine did not – see below. Also, hydroxychloroquine is considered both weaker and safer than chloroquine.

The former always puzzled me because the addition of the hydroxide means that it’s more basic/alkaline than chloroquine, and bases have tended to be correlated to longevity in cancer patients.

If you’re able to get a script, you can actually purchase chloroquine yourself. 100 pills are $23 here; it was in stock yesterday but appears to be sold out today. I would continue to recheck if you suffer from any cancer or COVID-19 and have a prescription for it.

Actually, if you can get a prescription – that is to say, convince your doctor to give you one – you can walk into any pharmacy today and get some if you’re currently suffering from either cancer or COVID-19. 

S/he’ll more likely give you a script for COVID-19 versus cancer but that’s a separate, very annoying, issue.

      • Here’s a recent paper on both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as available weapons to fight COVID-19.
      • Here’s a paper on how both were used against cancer in general.
      • This is a relatively recent summary of the dozen or so (very small) clinical trials on chloroquine as an adjuvant treatment for cancers, generally, including glioblastoma.
      • Again, studies show that hydroxychloroquine appears to provide no survival improvement in glioblastoma patients, as opposed to base chloroquine.

Anywho, I just wanted you all to know because people should know about this drug. It’s amazing, off patent, and needs to be further explored for other aliments such as cancer and the coronavirus.

We’ll get back to regular nonesense next week.

Location: a slightly less empty UWS apartment building
Mood: nostalgic
Music: We need someone to lean on
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2 replies on “Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine against cancer and COVID-19”

um… I do see the disclaimer at the top of the post but thanks to Trump’s irresponsible comments, now there is a shortage of this important medication for people who really do need it.

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