Tijuana: ‘Miracle drugs’ fly off shelves in hopes of fighting off coronavirus

TIJUANA — Pharmacies in Tijuana have been overwhelmed with people seeking two medications that are being called “miracle drugs.”

The meds are Chloroquine and Nivaquine, anti-bacterial drugs used to combat malaria and other infections. People are buying them in case they get coronavirus.

“A lot of people from north of the border have been coming here and buying the medications,” said Francisco, a pharmacist in Tijuana. “We can’t keep the medicines in stock and our suppliers can’t find any more.”

The drugs, sold over the counter in Mexico as Aralen and Plaquenil, range in price from $18 to $38.

Doctors, including Ricardo Vega with the Baja Health Cluster, a group of private doctors in Baja California, said the drugs have worked in some cases.

“For some reason, there is a response in some cases but none of those medications are specifically for this, we don’t have a treatment yet,” Vega said.

On Thursday, President Trump said Chloroquine is undergoing trials in the U.S. Vega said other countries are also testing it, but definite conclusions could be months away.

On Friday, Trump and the government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, publicly sparred over whether the malaria drug would work to treat people with coronavirus disease. It was an extraordinary exchange on national television, from the podium at the White House briefing room.

Trump is optimistic that the drug can also be effective against the coronavirus. Fauci, who has spent his career working on infectious diseases from HIV to coronavirus, said that only scientific study can show that the malaria drug is safe and effective against COVID-19.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.