(Reuters) - A widely shared video on social media incorrectly says the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) can be made at home using fruit peel.
The clip was first shared on TikTok with over 600,000 views and since then, has circulated on Instagram.
“How to make natural hydroxychloroquine naturally with ease,” the title of the video reads.
The video encourages viewers to boil grapefruit and lemon peel in water for several hours. After cooling and draining the ingredients, the juice is poured into jars.
The individual filming the content tells users to have “two tablespoons” of the juice per day.
“What exactly does this do for you? Seriously asking,” one social media user commented underneath the post. “I saved this. Thank you,” another said.
However, this is not how hydroxychloroquine, a prescription-only drug, is made, and people should not attempt making such drugs at home, experts told Reuters.
“Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is a man-made compound and cannot be extracted from any natural source,” Dr.
Stephen Cochrane, Senior Lecturer in Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), told Reuters in an email.
“The production of HCQ requires several sequential chemical reactions and purifications, and even for a trained synthetic chemist, this is not a trivial exercise,” he added.
Hydroxychloroquine is a less toxic derivative of the drug chloroquine, and was first synthesised in the 1950s. There are also dangers associated with attempts to produce such drugs outside laboratories.
“Medicines manufacturing is highly regulated for a reason so please, leave it to people who are qualified,” Steve Hoare, Quality and Safety Director at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, told Reuters in an email.
“People should not be attempting to make pharmacological agents with homemade recipes and methods where there is no validation of the product quality and purity and where toxicity is highly likely from taking them,” Prof. David Brayden, Professor of Advanced Drug Delivery at University College Dublin (UCD) said.
Reuters previously debunked a similar viral social media post falsely claiming that fruit peelings could be used to make quinine, a naturally occurring compound used to treat malaria.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) previously revoked the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the use of Hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 after randomised control clinical trials found the drug ineffective against the disease. Despite that, false claims about the drug still circulate online.
“The rationale of using chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid is now well and truly debunked and, in fact, serious side-effects are likely to be the main result,” Prof. Brayden said, citing a recent study released in March.
The study found that HCQ for those infected with COVID-19 “has little or no effect on the risk of death,” adding that “no further trials of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for treatment should be carried out”.
There are well-known potential side-effects of the drug, including cardiac arrest, the European Medicines Agency says.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) also instructed clinical trials in the United Kingdom to pause the recruitment of further participants in June 2020.
The drug is approved in the United Kingdom to treat rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and can be prescribed as a preventative or treatment for malaria.
False. Hydroxychloroquine is a synthetic drug and cannot be made at home using fruit peel.