A group of health experts are concerned about President Donald Trump’s use of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine even though he’s purportedly tested negative for the coronavirus, Politico reports.
On Monday, as reported at the time by The Inquisitr, Trump revealed that he has been taking the drug “prophylactically” for a couple of weeks, even though he hasn’t been diagnosed with the disease caused by the virus.
Trump has long been bullish on the drug, at one point calling it a “game-changer” in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the drug’s potential as a treatment for the respiratory illness has been unproven at best. What’s more, the drug can be downright dangerous, and indeed, some patients in test studies have died of the drug.
David Juurlink, head of clinical pharmacology at the University of Toronto, expressed concerns about the potential side-effects of the drug, although he left room for the possibility that taking it without a diagnosis isn’t entirely unreasonable.
“That seems to me to be a crazy thing to do. If the drug had no side effects, it would be a reasonable thing to do,” he said.
Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, expressed concern about the drug being given to COVID-19 patients, in the absence of proof that it works, and therefore stressing the supply of the drug for patients who rely on it for other conditions.
“It’s a necessary drug for them and not having access would have terrible consequences,” she tweeted.
The drug is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, among other conditions not related to COVID-19.
David Shulkin, Trump’s former secretary of Veterans Affairs, has previously noted that Trump’s advocacy for hydroxychloroquine could compel people to try to take the drug.
In fact, such a thing has already happened: as NPR News reported at the time, an Arizona man died, and his wife was hospitalized, after taking hydroxychloroquine.
Aneesh Mehta, an infectious disease doctor at Emory University, expressed similar concerns about Trump’s hydroxychloroquine advocacy, but for different reasons. He said that he attempted to compile a team of patients to be treated with remdesivir, a drug that, unlike hydroxychloroquine, has shown promising results in treating COVID-19. Mehta says that some patients didn’t sign up for the remdesivir trial because they wanted to try hydroxychloroquine instead.
Trump’s doctor, Sean Conley, for his part said that he and his patient discussed the risks of the unproven drug, and concluded that “the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.”