On Monday President Trump revealed he’s taking hydroxychloroquine, the controversial malaria drug that he has hailed as a potential treatment for coronavirus despite limited evidence from the medical community.
Trump said he consulted with the White House doctor about the drug, but it was not explicitly recommended for him since he has not tested positive for the virus.
“I asked him what do you think,” Trump said. “He said, ‘Well if you’d like it.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’d like it. I’d like to take it.’ “
He disclosed he’s been taking the drug for about a week-and-a-half along with a zinc supplement, clarifying that he based his decision on positive reviews he’s heard from front-line health care workers who have had positive results treating patients with it.
“Here’s my evidence: I get a lot of positive calls about it,” Trump said.
“So far, I seem to be OK,” he added.
The Trump White House released a memo later Monday evening from the president’s physician saying the two discussed the use of hydroxychloroquine and determined “the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.”
In the 114-word letter, presidential physician Sean Conley wrote that he discussed the pros and cons of taking the drug with Trump after one of his personal valets tested positive for coronavirus.
However the letter contained no specifics on when Trump started taking the drug or what dosage he is taking.
“In consultation with our inter-agency partners and subject matter experts around the country, I continue to monitor the myriad studies investigating potential COVID-19 therapies, and I anticipate employing the same shared medical decision making based on the evidence at hand in the future,” Conley wrote.
Trump’s decision to take hydroxychloroquine is controversial and potentially dangerous because the drug’s effectiveness in treating coronavirus remains unproven and there is no evidence that it works as a preventative measure. The pill is typically taken as an anti-malaria drug or to treat lupus.
The FDA issued a warning last month that hydroxychloroquine should not be taken outside a hospital or clinical trial because of the risk of severe heart problems.
The drug showed no benefit for patients in an analysis of those hospitalized in Veterans Health Administration medical centers. A study, released last month, found the two primary outcomes for COVID-19 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine were death and the need for mechanical ventilation.