(Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are in shortage due to a surge in demand because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The drugs, which have been tried with some success to treat the illness caused by the virus, were added to the agency’s website https://bit.ly/2JvV1Ep that lists drug shortages on Tuesday.

There is an urgent need for new treatments as the pandemic that has killed 42,000 people globally puts a strain on healthcare systems and wreaks havoc on financial markets.

Studies are underway in a number of countries to see whether hydroxychloroquine and the related malaria drug chloroquine may be effective in controlling the spread of coronavirus, which has led to a surge in demand for the treatments.

The agency said it was working with companies making generic versions of the drugs to ramp up production.

Health officials have cautioned that no one should be taking these drugs to treat or prevent coronavirus infection without medical supervision and a prescription.

Both drugs can cause serious side effects, including vision loss, heart problems or even death, if used incorrectly.

(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel and Maju Samuel)