Poison control centers at the University of Arizona Health Services in Tucson and Banner Health in Phoenix have both received calls about the drug Oleandrin and are warning against its use to treat COVID-19.
Oleandrin has been rumored to be a possible treatment, but medical experts advise that this information is false.
Ali Bridges with the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy said they have been fielding calls about the drug for the past month.
“The people who have called about it at the center have noted to us that they are coming to us with questions after hearing about it on the news,” said Bridges.
Oleandrin isn’t used medicinally but it is similar to the drug Digoxin, typically prescribed for cardiovascular disease because it can help slow heart rates. Taking it without an underlying disease can be extremely dangerous, according to Maureen Roland with Banner Health.
“There are no proven or published clinical trials regarding the safety and efficacy of this drug,” said Roland. “When ingested in certain amounts, [it] can be fatal.”
While there have been no cases of people using Oleandrin as a treatment in Arizona, there have been more than 100 exposures this year to the plant in the state, which is poisonous when ingested.