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Trump again tells people to take Hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, despite a lack of evidence

Published on 06/04/20 at 10:28am
Photo by Gage Skidmore

President Trump continues to push the drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential coronavirus treatment despite a lack of evidence for its effectiveness.

In a recent press conference, the President said: “I’m not looking at it one way or another. But we want to get out of this. If it does work, it would be a shame if we didn’t do it early. What do I know? I’m not a doctor. But I have common sense. The FDA feels good about it, as you know, they approved it.”

“We don’t have time to say, Gee, let’s take a couple of years and test it out, and let’s go and test with the test tubes and the laboratories. It doesn’t kill people.”

Despite Trump’s comments the FDA has not approved the drug for use in coronavirus patients, but has previously approved it as a malaria and lupus treatment. It is also not safe for everyone to take, and it can cause severe side effects such as impaired vision, hearing loss, paranoia and cardiac arrhythmias which could be fatal for people taking anti-depressants or patients with heart problems.

The data supporting chloroquine’s supposedly effective treatment has come under scrutiny. Some of it comes from Professor Didier Raoult and his study of 36 people in France. Raoult said he cured 100% of the patients but left out that six dropped out after the first six days and they died, were transferred to the ICU or couldn't tolerate the drug.

But a study out of Wuhan is getting more positive attention, where researchers tested the drug in 62 people with mild to moderate COVID-19 in a controlled studied. The group received standard care, with half the group also being tested with hydroxychloroquine. In patients who received the drug the time to clinical recovery was significantly shorter.

The FDA has allowed this drug to be donated to the Strategic National Stockpile. Novartis’s Sandoz has donated 30 million doses to the stockpile while Bayer has donated 1 million doses of chloroquine. Trump says the US government has stockpiled 29 million pills of hydroxchlorquine.

On Saturday, Trump called India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting he release a hydroxychloroquine export to the US that was being held up due to New Delhi banning its export.

Trump’s lawyer and former Mayor of New York has urged the current Mayor, Andrew Cuomo, to lift his 23 March executive order prohibiting pharmacist from dispensing the drug outside a hospital to treat the coronavirus.

Conor Kavanagh

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