‘We concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks…’
(Liberty Headlines) President Donald Trump said Monday that he is taking the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to protect against the new coronavirus.
Trump told reporters he has been taking the drug and a zinc supplement daily “for about a week and a half now.”
He spent weeks pushing the drug as a potential cure or prophylaxis for COVID-19.
He said his doctor did not recommend the drug to him, but he requested it from the White House physician.
“I started taking it, because I think it’s good,” Trump said. “I’ve heard a lot of good stories.”
The White House physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said in a statement released through the White House press office that, after “numerous discussions” with Trump about the evidence for and against using hydroxychloroquine, “we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.”
The Food and Drug Administration warned health professionals last month that the drug should not be used to treat COVID-19 outside of hospital or research settings, due to sometimes fatal side effects.
Regulators issued the alert for the drug, which can also be used to treat lupus and arthritis, after receiving reports of heart rhythm problems, including deaths, from poison control centers and other health providers.
Trump dismissed reports of side effects, saying, “All I can tell you is, so far I seem to be OK.”
At least two White House staffers tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, sparking concerns about the steps taken by the administration to protect the president and sending Vice President Mike Pence and other officials into varying forms of self-isolation.
The White House has since mandated that those in the West Wing wear face coverings and has introduced daily testing for the virus for the president, vice president and those they come in close contact with.
Trump says he continues to test negative for the coronavirus.
Trump last underwent an “interim” checkup in a November visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. His last complete physical took place in February 2019.
White House officials did not say whether any other administration officials were also taking the drug.
In April, the National Institutes of Health launched a study testing hydroxychloroquine versus a placebo drug in 500 hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Last week, NIH announced another study to see if hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin can prevent hospitalization or death in people with mild to moderate illness.
About 2,000 U.S. adults with confirmed coronavirus infections and symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath will get the drugs or placebo pills.
U.S. prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine surged roughly 80% in March to more than 830,000 compared with same period in the prior year, according to data tracking firm IQVIA.
That jump in prescribing came before the federal government accepted nearly 30 million doses of the drug donated to the strategic national stockpile by foreign drugmakers. Since then, millions of those tablets have been shipped to U.S. hospitals nationwide for use treating patients with COVID-19.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press.