Trump says he’s taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent COVID-19

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President Donald Trump said Monday that he is taking hydroxychloroquine, an unproven treatment of COVID-19 that he has vigorously promoted.

“A lot of good things came out of hydroxy. Many good things have come out. You’d be surprised at the number of people taking it, especially front-line workers – before you catch it, “said Trump. to the White House. “I happen to take it.” I happen to take it. … I’m taking it – hydroxychloroquine – right now. “

Trump said he did not believe he had been exposed to the virus, but decided to take the drug after consulting with the White House doctor. He also said that essential workers, including doctors and nurses, were taking the drug to avoid getting the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Sean P. Conley, the White House doctor, said in a statement on Monday that he had discussed the drug with the president.

“After much discussion, he and I have had the pros and cons of hydroxychloroquine, we have concluded that the potential benefits of the treatment outweigh the relative risks,” wrote Conley.

When asked if Trump had prescribed the drug for Conley, White House director of strategic communications, Alyssa Farrah, told NBC News: “Yes – he was prescribed and took it. “

Conley said the president is regularly tested for COVID-19 and continues to be tested negative.

A White House official familiar with the president’s decision told NBC News that Trump started taking the drug after his valet tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month. The president said at the time that he had “very little contact” with the valet, but the White House official said that Trump had discussed taking hydroxychloroquine with his doctor and weighed the risks before deciding to take it.

White House aides were caught off guard by Trump’s decision to publicly disclose that he was taking the drug. The White House official said that only a small group of helpers knew the president was taking him.

Vice President Mike Pence’s office did not answer questions if he was also taking hydroxychloroquine. His press secretary, Katie Miller, tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month.

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The Food and Drug Administration has warned against using the drug for COVID-19 outside of hospitals due to the risk of serious heart problems. Hydroxychloroquine is an antimalarial drug that is often used to treat lupus and rheumatoid disease. There is no approved treatment for COVID-19.

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Insisting on why he was using unproven therapy, Trump said, “Because I think it’s good. I have heard many good stories.

“I’m not going to hurt myself. It’s been 40 years, “he added.

Dr Vin Gupta, pulmonologist and expert in global health policy who is an NBC News and MSNBC contributor, said hydroxychloroquine can cause fatal cardiac arrhythmia.

“It’s certainly not completely safe,” said Gupta. “He is putting himself in danger. “

He said it was not wise to take medication unless there was a real medical need.

“If I were his doctor, I would grow back strongly,” said Gupta.

The president dismissed questions about studies that found the drug was not an effective treatment for COVID-19, touting a “well-designed” letter he said he received from a doctor in Westchester, New York , who claimed to have treated patients with hydroxychloroquine, zinc and the antibiotic azithromycin, a combination known as Z-Pack.

Trump said he was also taking zinc, and he seemed to suggest that he had also taken the antibiotic before. After initial studies suggesting the drug may help treat coronavirus patients, the president has publicly promoted him as a “game changer.” But subsequent studies have found little evidence that hydroxychloroquine is a useful treatment and have instead stated that it is increasingly linked to death.

“I’ve been taking it for a week and a half now, and I’m still here,” said Trump on Monday. A few minutes earlier, he said that he had been taking it for “a few weeks”.

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Trump has repeatedly said that front-line workers are taking the drug, which medical officials have acknowledged while warning of the practice.

The American Medical Association, the American Pharmacists Association and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists released a joint statement in April acknowledging that “some doctors and others are prophylactically prescribing drugs currently identified as potential treatments for COVID-19 “.

“We strongly oppose these actions,” said the statement. “We are warning hospitals, health systems and individual practitioners that no drug has been approved by the FDA for use in COVID-19 patients. “

Pressed again for evidence of the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19, the president said, “Here is my evidence. I get a lot of positive calls about it. “

The expert said that there was no evidence.

“We do not know if this is an effective intervention. There is no evidence that it works, “said Dr. Carlos del Rio, professor of medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine and professor of global health and epidemiology at Emory University. adding that he is concerned that President Trump will take the drug.

“The concern I have is that people are saying, well, the president is using it, that must mean it works, right? “



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