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  • Gulshanpreet Singh

Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19: What is it and who makes it?

The story of Hydroxychloroquine began in 1638 when the wife of the Viceroy of Peru acquired malaria. She was treated by an Incan herbalist with the bark of a tree and she recovered dramatically. When the Viceroy returned to Spain, he brought with him large supplies of the bark powder for general use, which at the time was controlled by the Church and was thus called “Jesuit’s Powder”. It took nearly two centuries for the active substance, Quinine, to be isolated from the bark. Over the next century, quinine became a common component in folk medicines and patent remedies for the treatment of malaria in the southern states of America. By the 1940s, quinine and its derivative chloroquine(C18H26ClN3), was recognized for its anti-malarial properties and found use among troops fighting in the Pacific during World War II. However, it was noted that this compound had significant toxicities. In 1945, a modification of this compound via hydroxylation led to the development of Hydroxychloroquine(C18H26ClN3O), which was found to be less toxic and remains in use, without change, to this day. Hydroxychloroquine was approved for medical use in the United States in 1955. Today, Chloroquine is used to prevent and treat malaria and amebiasis while hydroxychloroquine is used to treat malaria as well as rheumatic disea