Trump says he takes hydroxychloroquine to prevent coronavirus infection even though it’s an unproven treatment

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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an event at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, May 15, 2020.

Stefani Reynolds | Bloomberg | Getty Images

President Donald Trump said Monday that he has been taking anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine for over a week to prevent coronavirus infection even though it is not yet a proven treatment.

“I happen to be taking it,” Trump said during a roundtable event. “A lot of good things have come out. 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.”

He added: “I’m taking it, hydroxychlororquine. Right now, yeah. Couple of weeks ago, I started taking it. Cause I think it’s good, I’ve heard a lot of good stories.”

Hydroxychloroquine, which has been repeatedly touted by Trump as a potential game-changer in fighting the coronavirus, is also often used by doctors to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Numerous clinical trials are looking to see if it’s effective in fighting the coronavirus, but it is not a proven treatment yet.

Trump’s comments come weeks after the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about the drug, saying it became aware of reports of “serious heart rhythm problems” in patients with the virus who were treated with the malaria drugs, often in combination with antibiotic azithromycin, commonly known as a Z-Pak.

Hydroxychloroquine, which is available as a generic drug and is also produced under the brand name Plaquenil by French drugmaker Sanofi, can have serious side effects, including muscle weakness and heart arrhythmia. A small study in Brazil was halted for safety reasons after coronavirus patients taking chloroquine, which hydroxychloroquine is derived from, developed arrhythmia, including some who died.

Trump said Monday that if the drug wasn’t good he’d “tell you.”

“I’m not gonna get hurt by it. It’s been around for 40 years,” he said. “For malaria, for lupus, for other things. I take it. Front-line workers take it. A lot of doctors take it — excuse me, a lot of doctors take it. I take it.”

He added he doesn’t own stock in the company that produces the drug, adding he wants “the people of this nation to feel good.”

“I don’t want them feeling sick. And there’s a very good chance that this has an impact, especially early on,” he said. 

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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