WebMD News Brief

Trump Takes Hydroxychloroquine to Prevent COVID-19

trump speaking to u s congress

May 19, 2020 - President Donald Trump on Monday said he is taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug the president touted as a possible treatment for coronavirus.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said he consulted with the White House doctor about the drug, which the FDA has warned carries serious, sometimes fatal, side effects and should not be used outside a hospital or clinical setting.

The FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization for hydroxychloroquine for patients hospitalized with severe cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Many scientific studies are, and have been, conducted on hydroxychloroquine in recent months. Two recent studies published in BMJ found the drug did not improve the condition of patients with mild or severe cases of COVID-19 and that negative side effects were plentiful.

Asked what evidence he used to decide with his doctor to take the drug, Trump said, “Here's my evidence. I get a lot of positive calls about it.”

The only negative thing he’s heard about hydroxychloroquine, he said, was, “With, you know, people that aren't big Trump fans gave it.”

Still, Trump said he’s also taking zinc supplements along with the hydroxychloroquine.

“I’m taking the two. The zinc and the hydroxy. All I can tell you is so far I seem to feel OK,” he said, according to a White House transcript.

In a statement released by the White House late Monday, Trump’s doctor said he president remains symptom-free and in very good health.

“After numerous discussions he and I had regarding the evidence for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine, we concluded the potential benefit from treatment, outweighed the negative risks,” Sean P. Conley, DO, physician to the president, said.

The FDA’s emergency authorization for the drug, however, says it may be used to treat COVID-19, not to prevent it. William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, told CBS News that’s because “there’s no real indication, no evidence base for the use of hydroxychloroquine as a preventive of COVID-19.”

Manny Alvarez, MD, a regular Fox News contributor, and chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, questioned Trump’s statement.

“I found it to be highly irresponsible of the president to make that statement,” Alvarez said on Fox News.

To date, Alvarez said, the “data coming out, very repetitively, says there is no benefit.”

WebMD Health News Brief Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on May 20, 2020

Sources

BMJ, “Hydroxychloroquine in patients with mainly mild to moderate coronavirus disease 2019: open label, randomised controlled trial.”

BMJ: “Clinical efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in patients with covid-19 pneumonia who require oxygen: observational comparative study using routine care data.”

CBS News, “Trump says he is taking hydroxychloroquine.”

White House transcripts

White House statement from Sean P. Conley, DO

Fox News: “Dr. Manny Alvarez: Trump's 'irresponsible' hydroxychloroquine announcement overshadows good coronavirus news.”

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