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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – At a press conference on Monday, President Donald Trump said he was using hydroxychloroquine to prevent COVID-19.

“Frontline workers, many, many are taking it. I happen to be taking it. I happen to be taking it. I’m taking it, hydroxychloroquine. Right now, yeah,” Trump said during the press conference.

The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation says the drug is often prescribed to those who have lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

“What it does, it goes into cells and changes the acidity inside contraptions inside the cells,” Dr. Joan Merrill, director of clinical projects in the Arthritis and Clinical Immunology Program, said.

She says it could also prevent coronavirus from entering the cells in the first place, however, there’s no evidence of that right now, and there can actually be some serious side effects including heart issues for those who shouldn’t be taking it.

“I can guarantee you if hundreds of thousands of people who should not be on this drug start taking this drug, there’s going to be some serious side effects or even deaths,” Merrill said.

Another issue has been a shortage of the prescription drug for those who rely on it most, like Ashley Bartlett who takes hydroxychloroquine for lupus.

“I’d gotten to a point where I was losing mobility or it was difficult to walk, to dress myself and hydroxychloroquine just gave me my life back,” Bartlett said.

Due to early excitement about the drug, the state raised eyebrows by purchasing $2 million worth of hydroxychloroquine. The governor indicated it could be used by other patients, like Bartlett.

“It’s proven to be the most effective in fighting against organ damage and organ failure so it’s important to a lot of patients that have this,” she said.

“Since the executive order was signed I haven’t had any issues getting my prescription filled,” Bartlett said.

Merrill warns Oklahomans not to endanger their health by taking unproven preventive medications.

“We just have to understand it’s going to be slow,” Merrill told KFOR.

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