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Guest column/Personal experience with hydroxychloroquine

A recent survey in the Herald-Star asked this question: Would you take hydroxychloroquine if it was available to you? Results showed 18 percent said yes and 82 percent said no.

Well, let me tell you my story.

About 40 years ago, I suffered with 18 months of hives and lived on prednisone (steroids) and antihistamines. One day I was clear, and the next day the hives, itching and swelling had come back with a vengeance. At the Cleveland Clinic, a doctor explained that a prior medication had remained in the fatty tissue of my body and my immune system was fighting against the foreign substance. Having a history of hives from foods such as clams, I understood that the food passed through my body and the hives were gone after several days.

My history includes severe allergic reactions from mosquito bites and bees. Yes, I am susceptible to many internal and external stimuli and have an over-reactive immune system. Whatever was in my body would not leave, and the histamines flared up, causing severe hives. Another doctor at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, who was a researcher, stated that some people who have Hodgkin’s disease also have an onset of hives. Plaquenil, which is now the generic name of hydroxychloroquine, has been successful in reducing hives, and it’s an old remedy from a tree bark used to treat leprosy in early civilization. Before beginning the medicine, I had to take an eye exam to determine a base line. With no side effects from the medicine, I was hive-free in six weeks.

Eight years ago, I took another medication that resulted in one year of hives. This time, I went to the Cleveland Clinic where I was put on steroids and antihistamines with little success. The steroids had serious side effects resulting in bone and thyroid damage. I begged the clinic to give me Plaquenil. The doctor said it was a strong medicine, not protocol, and considered off-label, but she eventually wrote the prescription. I again went to my eye doctor and stated I was taking an uncommon medication. The doctor explained Plaquenil is a common, safe medication used for many people who have rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, which are auto-immune disorders. Some of these people have been on this medication for decades with minimal side effects. After one month of taking 200 mg a day, I was again clear of hives. The medication seemed to enter the pathways of my immune system and calm my histamines.

When President Donald Trump mentioned the anecdotal success he heard regarding hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug, for COVID-19, I did my research and realized that is the generic name of the medication I had taken with tremendous success. The medication calmed my immune system and histamines, and I could understand how in the early stages of the disease the medication could reduce the inflammation within the lungs. It opens the cells so that the zinc and azithromycin can kill the virus. This reduces the cytokines storm often referred to as the replication of the virus and the immune system’s over-reaction that causes breathing difficulties and even death.

The Dr. Anthony Faucis of the world are waiting for double-blind studies. There is anecdotal evidence of one person after another giving testimony of the success hydroxychloroquine provides in the early stages of this dangerous virus. Many doctors and nurses on the frontlines are taking HCQ as a preventative — just like people who take it to prevent malaria. The FDA warned against the medication after a flawed Veterans Administration study used it with extremely ill patients who had co-morbidities and who were entering the last phase of the illness on ventilators. This study was leaked to the main-stream media, which is against anything that Trump touts.

This scares people from participating in a double-blind study and using a safe, inexpensive medication that’s been used for 65 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has rated this drug to be safer than Tylenol or aspirin. It is an inexpensive drug with little profit to made by the big pharmaceuticals. Recently, Michigan state Rep. Karen Whitsett stated that the medication saved her life, praised Trump and was vilified by her own Democrats.

The quality of many lives has been greatly improved and saved as a result of the amazing medication hydroxychloroquine — including mine.

(Smith is a resident of Wintersville.)

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