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Arizona police say death of man who drank chloroquine phosphate 'not being treated as a homicide'

Posted at 12:00 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 15:02:43-04

MESA, AZ — The Mesa Police Department is refuting claims that a death involving a chemical similar to the one promoted by President Donald Trump as a treatment for the coronavirus is being treated as a homicide.

In March, a Mesa man and his wife ingested chloroquine phosphate — a chemical is typically used as a cleaner for fish tank. Within 30 minutes, the two experienced severe side effects that required admittance to the hospital. The man died, and doctors placed his wife under critical care, according to a hospital spokesperson.

Friends of the couple said the two decided to mix chloroquine phosphate with a drink because they had heard Trump and other officials touting the drug chloroquine as a possible treatment for COVID-19.

The story received widespread media attention. In recent days, some outlets — including a report from the New York Post — suggest that the husband was given the chemical and that the couple had experienced marital problems. Those accounts have not been confirmed by police.

“This investigation is NOT being treated as a homicide,” Mesa police said.

According to Detective Jason Flam with Mesa Police Department, the department did assign the case to a homicide detective, but that is standard protocol.

“It is normal protocol at the Mesa Police Department for all death cases (other than obvious natural causes) to be investigated,” Flam said. “All death cases are assigned to a homicide detective for their review as a matter of protocol. Please do not confuse this fact with what is currently being reported that this case is now a homicide investigation.”

The New York Post and other outlets also reportedly heard from Mesa police that the homicide detective assignment was normal protocol.

The FDA issued a warning against the use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus outside of a hospital or clinical trial.