VA Secretary Robert Wilkie outlined his department’s use of the anti-malaria drug in a letter and related documents provided to Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer.
Wilkie explained that the VA has prescribed the drug to about 1,300 out of 10,000 coronavirus patients treated by their department, and said they “will continue to do so in accordance with Food and Drug Administration guidelines.”
However, coronavirus isn’t the only reason that the VA has been using the controversial drug. Wilkie’s letter to Schumer revealed that they have also prescribed the drug to almost 7,500 patients for non-COVID-19 related causes, according to The Hill.
The use of the drug came under fire after a study led some to believe that hydroxychloroquine could lead to higher mortality rates. However, Wilkie’s explanation of the drug’s use showed that the patient sample was only patients with the most severe conditions, which he believed led to higher mortality rates than those who didn’t take the drug.
The VA is still collecting information about how the drug is affecting patients, however, Schumer announced that the studies are moving forward.
“What I am able to say today is that more than one thousand vets have been given hydroxychloroquine, a clinical trial is set to launch in California and other states that could begin as soon as next week.”
President Donald Trump has touted the use of the drug as a treatment for the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, even going so far as to take it himself in hopes of fending off the virus.
Trump announced just days ago that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine for weeks. His decisions caused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to speak out against the use of the drug, and the president’s use, specifically. That interview was when she made her now-famous comment about the president being “morbidly obese” when referencing risk factors.
The Inquisitr previously reported on the study results that found the drug potentially dangerous to recipients. According to the earlier study, those who took chloroquine alone saw a 37 percent increased risk of death and 256 percent increased risk for arrhythmia.
Several prominent cardiologists weighed in, saying that the study indicated cause for concern when using the drug, especially in conjunction with COVID-19.
Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Steven Nissen said that the drug “is maybe harmful and that no one should be taking it outside of a clinical trial.”