Under pressure from Trump, FDA approves untested drug for COVID-19

The Trump Timeline

Sources linked at end of page.


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The Food and Drug Administration authorizes emergency use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 patients after Donald Trump repeatedly touts its unproven benefits in press conferences. While some studies don’t negate that hydroxychloroquine could help with COVID-19 symptoms, there’s also only thin evidence that it contributes to recovery in any way.

“I think people should [take hydroxychloroquine],” he told reporters at a White House press briefing on Saturday. “If it were me, in fact, I might do it anyway. I may take it … I have to ask my doctors about that. But I may take it.”

Trump said lupus patients — who are often treated with hydroxychloroquine — seem less likely to contract Covid-19, and that “there’s a rumor out there” and “there’s a study out.”

“Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not. Why don’t you investigate that?” he asked.


Hydroxycholoriquine as a treatment for the virus is heavily cautioned by organizations like the Infectious Diseases Society of America and people like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, both members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Trump announces that he’s stopped taking the drug in May, and the FDA authorization is revoked on June 15, 2020, after more studies fail to prove it does more good than harm when taken for the coronavirus. Some studies and reports from hospitals even suggest the drug sped up the deaths of COVID-19 patients who otherwise might have survived, especially elderly patients.

Initial studies that might have provoked Trump’s support of hydroxychloroquine are later revealed to have tested the drug on cells in the wrong part of the body. Hydroxychloroquine is still held on a pedestal by some right-wing media and administration officials at the time of this writing (September 2020).

As a frontline doctor working with COVID-19 patients at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, Neil Schluger had horrific days.

“I would come into the ward in the morning to make rounds and say to the intern, ‘How did we do last night?’ And the intern said, ‘Well, I had 10 COVID admissions, and three of them have already died.’ It was like nothing I’ve experienced in 35 years of being a physician,” Schluger says…

As a result, “we stopped giving hydroxychloroquine sometime in April,” he says.

And yet the numbers of cases and deaths from COVID-19 in New York City have continued to fall. “If we’d taken away a lifesaving drug, you wouldn’t expect that to happen,” he says.


Although US President Donald Trump once took the medicine as a prophylactic—and even now insists that it would be “the hottest thing going” if not for biased media coverage—hydroxychloroquine was a flop in clinical trials, and in June the US Food and Drug Administration revoked its emergency approval for use in fighting the pandemic. The proverbial nail in the coffin—which I helped hammer in—was the revelation that early research on the drug’s efficacy against Covid-19 had used the wrong type of cells.

Roxanne Khamsi, WIRED

In late August, it’s discovered that the drug is being used in nursing homes in at least two states, despite the FDA warning against its use in non-hospital settings.









Photo: Pixabay

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