After President Donald Trump announced that he was taking the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, White House doctor Sean Conley provided more details. Conley said that he and the president decided that "the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks" when determining whether or not Trump should take the controversial drug.
According to The Hill, Conley released a 114-word letter hours after Trump told reporters that he had started taking the drug prophylactically. One of Vice President Mike Pence's aides recently tested positive for the coronavirus, causing increased concerns that the president could be infected with the virus himself.
Trump has repeatedly championed the drug as a treatment for COVID-19, despite numerous studies disputing the effectiveness of the drug for off-label coronavirus use. During a press conference, Trump explained his decision to start taking hydroxychloroquine.
"I asked him what do you think. He said, 'Well if you'd like it.' I said, 'Yeah, I'd like it. I'd like to take it.'"
The president said he had been taking the drug, along with zinc, for a week and a half. He based his decision on claims he had heard from people who said that they've had a positive experience with the drug.
Immediately after the announcement, health care professionals took to social media to warn people against using the drug if they are in a high-risk category. The professionals claimed it could cause serious side effects for those at risk. Trump has repeatedly said that people have "nothing to lose" by trying out the drug, which is typically used to treat malaria and lupus.Some critics argue that it could make people ill or cost them their lives to use the drug proactively or outside of its normal use. However, Conley determined that the benefits could not be ignored.
"After numerous discussions he and I had regarding the evidence for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine, we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks."
Conley also defended Trump's decision to use the drug, saying that he had reviewed the studies concerning the drug.
"In consultation with our inter-agency partners and subject matter experts around the country, I continue to monitor the myriad studies investigating potential COVID-19 therapies, and I anticipate employing the same shared medical decision making based on the evidence at hand in the future."
Conley did not specify in his letter how long the president has been using the drug or what dose Trump has been using. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently took a jab at the president, saying that he shouldn't be taking the drug because he is "morbidly obese."