Dr. Anthony Fauci has become known for his pushback against Donald Trump's misinformation during press briefings. Notably, he warned that evidence suggesting the antimalarial drug chloroquine is effective against the novel coronavirus is only anecdotal after the president touted its potential. Despite such pushback, Fauci said he would prescribe the drug to patients with COVID-19 during a Tuesday appearance on Philadelphia's AM 990 The Answer Radio, Breitbart reported.
"Yeah, of course, particularly if people have no other option," Fauci told talk radio host Chris Stigall, who asked him if he would allow a patient to act on their desire to try chloroquine.
"You want to give them hope. In fact, for physicians in this country, these drugs are approved drugs for other reasons."Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved chloroquine for treatment of COVID-19, Fauci noted that the antimalarial drug, which he claims is used against "certain autoimmune diseases," can still be prescribed for off-label use in the absence of FDA approval.
"People do that all the time, and it really is an individual choice between the physician and his or her patient as to whether or not they want to do that."As Breitbart noted, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak banned the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat the disease caused by the novel coronavirus hours after Fauci's remarks.
Dr. Irwin Redlener, a pediatrician and the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, previously warned that the lack of experimental evidence on chloroquine's effectiveness for treating COVID-19 leaves open the possibility that it's unsafe for such a purpose.
Although Trump has touted the drug as a "game-changer," Fauci has been cautious to avoid using the same language, The Daily Beast reported.Speaking to Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Tuesday night, Fauci was pressed on whether he would take hydroxychloroquine if he tested positive for coronavirus. Although Fauci noted that he would want to "help" himself, he pointed to his belief in clinical trials and his desire to "get an answer" on the effectiveness of the drug.
"So I might take one of those drugs, but I would do it within the auspices of a controlled clinical trial," he said. "I've always felt that way."
As reported by FiercePharma, clinical trial research published Monday on the preprint server medRxiv reveals that hydroxychloroquine was no more effective than a placebo in fighting coronavirus infections or bringing body temperature to equilibrium in mild Chinese patients. The data conflicts with a recent article in The Lancet that touted the results of the Chinese trial as showing "positive preliminary outcomes" for the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine on clearing COVID-19.