Trump Claims He’s Taking Hydroxychloroquine Now, Just Because


Donald Trump, M.D. is back at it again. Weeks after Fox News and the Trump administration pumped the breaks on their cheerleading of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19, after new studies showed it may be ineffective in treating the virus and even result in more deaths, the president is beating the drum for the unproven drug once again. And this time, he even claims to be putting his money where his mouth is. Trump told reporters Monday that he is taking the drug himself as a preventative treatment for the coronavirus, despite a lack of evidence that it’s effective and the possibility of dangerous side effects. “I take it,” Trump said about the drug. “So far, I seem to be ok.”

The president claimed Monday that he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine every day for “a week and a half,” despite testing negative for COVID-19 and having no symptoms. “I think it’s good. I’ve heard a lot of good stories. And if it’s not good, I’ll tell you right. I’m not going to get hurt by it,” Trump told reporters at the White House, noting the anti-malaria drug has “been around for 40 years.” Trump said that he was not directed to take the drug by his doctor, but rather he asked the White House physician “what do you think, and he said, ‘Well, if you’d like it.’” “Yeah, I’d like it. I’d like to take it,” Trump continued. (“After numerous discussions he and I had for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks,” White House physician Sean P. Conley wrote in a subsequent statement, which notably did not explicitly confirm that Trump is taking the drug.) When asked whether he had any actual evidence that the drug was an effective preventative treatment, Trump could only offer anecdotal advice. “Are you ready? Here’s my evidence—I get a lot of positive calls about it,” Trump said. He then went on to blast a study that showed patients at veterans hospitals taking hydroxychloroquine were not less likely to need a ventilator than those who were not treated with the drug, and in fact passed away at a higher rate. Trump said the study was done by people “that aren’t big Trump fans,” and was “very unscientific.” “You know what I like to say,” Trump said about taking the drug. “What do you have to lose?”

With so much still unknown about hydroxychloroquine and the coronavirus, though, there could actually be a lot to lose. While hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment against conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, it’s still unclear whether or not the drug makes a difference in COVID-19 treatment, let alone as a preventative measure for those who haven’t even contracted the virus. “There are no data that pre-exposure prophylaxis is effective to prevent coronavirus,” University of Minnesota infectious disease physician-scientist Dr. David Boulware, who’s overseeing a trial to determine whether hydroxychloroquine can prevent the coronavirus, wrote on Twitter. “It may be. It may not be. We do not know. The only way I would recommend taking hydroxychloroquine is within a clinical trial.”

Beyond the lack of evidence suggesting its efficacy for COVID-19, hydroxychloroquine can potentially have harmful or even deadly side effects, particularly among vulnerable populations or when taken in combination with certain other medications. The Food and Drug Administration has recommended that the drug only be taken by patients hospitalized with COVID-19, and notes that “hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19.” “The FDA is aware of reports of serious heart rhythm problems in patients with COVID-19 treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine,” the agency notes on its website, and a fact sheet on the drug’s use for COVID-19 mentions that the drug can also adversely affect the kidneys, central nervous system, and retinas, among other potential side effects. The arrhythmia that can be caused by hydroxychloroquine, physicians emphasized to the New York Times, can be fatal and has been seen even in patients without pre-existing heart conditions. “This disorder can be lethal,” Dr. Steven E. Nissen, chief academic officer of the The Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, told the Times. “My concern would be that the public not hear comments about the use of hydroxychloroquine and believe that taking this drug to prevent COVID-19 infection is without hazards. In fact, there are serious hazards.”





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