U.S. President Donald Trump has said he has been taking hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for “a couple of weeks” to help ward off COVID-19 infection .
The drug, traditionally used in the treatment of malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, has not been proven to be effective in COVID-19 prevention or treatment. The drug can sometimes have severe side effects, including arrythmia, which can be fatal.
“You’d be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the front-line workers before you catch it. The front-line workers — many, many are taking it. I happen to be taking it. I happen to be taking it,” Mr. Trump told journalists during a meeting with restaurant executives on Monday.
“Hydroxychloroquine?” “When?” “Now?” reporters asked, to which Mr. Trump responded in the affirmative.
“A couple of weeks ago, I started taking it. Because I think it’s good,” he said.
“I’ve heard a lot of good stories. And if it is not good, I will tell you right. I’m not going to get hurt by it. It has been around for 40 years for malaria, for lupus, for other things. I take it,” he said, adding that he hoped to soon not to be taking it because other solutions would be available.
Mr. Trump also said he did not own a company that produced HCQ and wanted Americans to feel good and that the drug has an impact, especially early on.
He also confirmed that he was also taking a zinc supplement and had taken a single dose initially of azithromycin, an antibiotic.
“All I can tell you is, so far I seem to be okay,” Mr. Trump said.
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S.’s drug regulator, issued a warning about HCQ last month saying it should not be taken outside a hospital setting or clinical trial due to heart rhythm problems (the advisory did not pertain to FDA-approved use of the drug for the treatment of malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis).
The White House released a memorandum from Sean P. Conley, the President’s osteopathic physician, that Mr. Trump had tested negative for several COVID-19 tests he had taken in recent days and that the President was “in very good health.”
Dr. Conley’s memorandum suggested that the choice of prophylactic medication was not an obvious one. “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 relative risks,” he wrote.
India, a major producer of HCQ, had sent shipments of the drug to the U.S., days after Mr. Trump had asked India to lift a ban on the drug’s export. The U.S. has, according to Mr. Trump, stockpiled more than 29 million doses of HCQ.