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Uproar: Trump announces he's taking hydroxychloroquine - WND
President Trump caused an uproar Monday afternoon when he revealed to reporters he's been taking the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine every day for the past two weeks as a preventative measure against the coronavirus.
"I'm taking it – hydroxychloroquine," the president said during a roundtable with restaurant leaders at the White House.
"A lot of people are taking it. A lot of frontline workers are taking hydroxychloroquine," said Trump.
Trump said he took the drug at his own initiative but the White House doctor approved it.
The president said some who have criticized him for touting the drug have suspected he has a financial stake in it.
"No, I don't own the company," he said. "You know what? I want the people of this nation to feel good. I don't want them being sick. And there's a very good chance that this has an impact. Especially early on," he said.
Trump's revelation came after the drugmaker Moderna received positive results from a Phase 1 clinical trial for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, sparking a 900-point rise in the Dow by the end of trading.
Hydroxychloroquine has been prescribed as an anti-malarial drug since World War II and is also used to treat auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Is it smart for President Trump to be taking hydroxychloroquine?
Many doctors across the nation have claimed it has been remarkably effective – combined with azithromycin and sometimes zinc – in the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Peer-reviewed studies in China, France, South Korea, Algeria published from January through April 20 found more than 90% of a total of 2,333 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin improved clinically.
But opponents, some dubbing it the "Trump drug," argue its use for COVID-19 hasn't been properly vetted by clinical trials.
The FDA has approved hydroxychloroquine for emergency use in hospitals to treat COVID-19. Last month, the agency issued guidance warning against its used for COVID-19 outside of a hospital or a clinical trial due to possible side effects, particularly heart arrhythmia.
On Monday, Trump mentioned the widely reported University of Virginia School of Medicine study that found more patients who took the drug died than those who didn't, calling it "a very unscientific report."
Renowned infectious disease specialist Dr. Stephen Smith – who has promoted hydroxychloroquine as a "game changer" – has called the Virginia study a "sham."
See Trump's remarks Monday:
"I can't believe anyone took this seriously. There's not one dosage listed, cumulative or daily, of hydroxychloroquine or anthromicin. And people call this a study," Smith said in an April 28 interview with Fox News' Laura Ingraham.
Published in the medRxiv online depository, the study was not peer-reviewed. It analyzed the medical records of 368 male veterans hospitalized with confirmed coronavirus infection at Veterans Health Administration medical centers who died or were discharged by April 11.
About 28% of patients who were given hydroxychloroquine in addition to the usual care died compared to 11% who received routine care alone.
But Smith argued that "not one person in that paper saw one COVID patient.
"Only three are MDs [and] all [those] are ophthalmology trained," Smith said of the research. "It's a sham. It's a shame on UVA. I sent an email to the dean of the medical school at UVA. I have not heard back from them. It is an embarrassment that UVA allows this thing to be called a study."
In early April, a poll of 6,200 physicians in 30 countries found hydroxychloroquine to be the best drug available to treat COVID-19.
At the same time, Smith declared he had seen 100% success in his treatment of 72 seriously ill COVID-19 patients with hydroxchloroquine and azithromycin.
"I think this is the beginning of the end of the pandemic," he said in an April 1 interview with Ingraham. "I'm very serious."
"It's a game-changer. An absolute game-changer."
Cavuto: 'This will kill you'
After Trump's news conference, Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto expressed alarm, fearing the president's use of the drug would prompt many to follow suit and possibly die.
He cited the University of Virginia study, saying it found that "those with vulnerable conditions, respiratory conditions, heart ailment, they died."
Cavuto also cited a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association of 1,438 individuals in the New York City area who were patients in 25 different hospitals in March. It found no statistical difference between treatment with hydroxychloroquine and no treatment. Another study in Manhattan showed the same.
The Fox News host insisted the Virginia study on veterans "wasn't a loaded politically one."
"It was a test on patients there, and those who took it in a vulnerable population, including those with respiratory or other conditions, they died," he said.
"I want to stress again, they died," said Cavuto.
"If you are in a risky population here, and you are taking this as a preventative treatment to ward off the virus, or in a worse case scenario you are dealing with the virus, and you are in this population, it will kill you," he said. "I cannot stress enough. This will kill you."
Cavuto then interviewed Dr. Bob Lahita, the chairman of medicine at St. Joseph University Hospital, who said he was surprised by Trump's statement.
The physician said he and his colleagues used it two and a half months ago on patients who were very ill, "and we saw absolutely no effect."
However, Cavuto then spoke to another physician, Fox News medical contributor Dr. Janette Nesheiwat, who said she thought it was "very smart" for Trump to take the drug as a "prophylactic preventative measure" after members of his administration tested positive for the virus.
She cautioned that people who have "underlying cardiac arrhythmia" should be careful, using it only if they are "on their death bed" as a last resort.
The doctor has personally prescribed hydroxychloroquine to many of her patients.
"For some of them, they said it helped tremendously," she said, while for others "it didn't make much of a change."
She said it's best to consult one's doctor.
"It's not going to be good for everyone, but it may be beneficial and potentially lifesaving for others," she said.
Nesheiwat said physicians should have hydroxychloroquine "in their tool box" along with another drug approved for FDA emergency use amid clinical trials, remdesivir, "while we wait for a vaccine to become approved and for other drugs to get on the market."
'Doctors like me out in the real world'
The hot-button issue came up at a House hearing last Wednesday featuring the testimony of ousted federal vaccine official-turned whistleblower Dr. Rick Bright.
Trump noted Monday that Bright signed off on the FDA's emergency use of hydroxychloroquine. However, Bright said in his whistleblower complaint that he opposed the use of the drug for COVID-19 while Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar sought an "expanded use protocol." Bright said the emergency-use authorization was a compromise.
At the hearing, two lawmakers who are physicians, Reps. Michael Burgess of Texas and Larry Bucshon of Indiana, said they had heard from many doctors who have reported success treating patients with protocols of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, and sometimes zinc.
"They are recording significant benefits if it is used early enough in the course," Burgess said.
Bright testified to the committee Thursday he became aware of "the anecdotal reports" of hydroxychloroquine's efficacy with COVID-19 but said it hasn't shown in randomized studies "an overwhelming level of evidence that it has benefit."
Bucshon, however, noting he is a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon who has been in health care for 30 years, said doctors "across the country will use drugs off-label in a circumstance where they don't have or they don't see a viable alternative."
He acknowledged the need for double blind studies, but "in this situation, I think a little bit of understanding and leeway from the federal government is in order."
"We do want to ensure the safety," he said, but hydroxychloroquine "has been proven safe for many, many years in appropriate doses."
He acknowledged it can lead to cardiac arrhythmias if not used properly.
"But when states tried to stop doctors from using [hydroxychloroquine], there was such a backlash they had to back away from it, because the physicians in the community wanted to use it," Bucshon said.
"So doctors like me out in the real world, if things are working, even anecdotally, they're not going to wait for the government bureaucracy to approve it," he said.
"This is why doctors are using it."
The data eventually will show whether or not it should be used for COVID-19, he said, but lives are on the line now.
"If two years from now we have the studies, and we say, 'Hey, that stuff really would have worked, and the government stopped that from being used,' if I was the family of a person that was stopped from getting hydroxychloroquine, I'd be pretty mad," the Indiana lawmaker said.
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