During daily press briefings, President Donald Trump continues to promote hydroxychloroquine as a “game-changer” to treat the novel coronavirus, even though the FDA has not approved the drug for this use. Now, there may be a financial reason Trump is well, trumping, the Malaria drug so hard.
The New York Times reports that Trump has a “small financial interest” in French pharmaceutical firm, Sanofi, which produces Plaquenil, the brand-name of hydroxychloroquine. The drug is currently approved to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
The newspaper says the president’s family trusts invest in a mutual fund where Sanofi is a holding. Forbes said Trump’s Sanofi holdings are small and estimates the monetary value at less than $3,000. It is unclear how these holdings would change if the drug was widely used globally to COVID-19 cases.
The Times says several senior executives connected to Trump stand to profit, along with the president, if hydroxychloroquine is approved as a treatment for COVID-19. These execs include Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Last month, the FDA issued an emergency order that permits doctors to administer the drug to coronavirus patients as they deem necessary. Trump estimated that the federal government would distribute 29 million doses for starters and that he is requesting even more dosages from Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top infectious-disease expert and part of Trump’s Coronavirus Taskforce, has urged Americans to proceed with caution in requesting hydroxychloroquine as there is only anecdotal information on the drug’s success in treating COVID-19 cases.
“I think we’ve got to be careful that we don’t make that majestic leap to assume that this is a knockout drug,” Fauci told Fox News on Friday. “We still need to do the kinds of studies that definitively prove whether any intervention, not just this one, any intervention is truly safe and effective.”
Now the Trump administration plans to test hydroxychloroquine on COVID-19 patients in Detroit, a city that is roughly 80 percent Black and that represents a majority of COVID-19 patients. Vice President Mike Pence said the drug will be used in a trial of 3,000 patients at the Henry Ford Hospital and the results will be tracked in a study, according to Axios.
Some doctors understand the need to project hope, even if it’s not certain.
“I certainly understand why the president is pushing it,” Dr. Joshua Rosenberg, who works in critical care at Brooklyn Hospital Center, told The Times. “He’s the president of the United States. He has to project hope. And when you are in a situation without hope, things go very badly. So I’m not faulting him for pushing it even if there isn’t a lot of science behind it, because it is, at this point, the best, most available option for use.”
While Rosenberg “understands” the president is projecting hope, others “understand” that the president might be up to lacing his own pockets. Twitter reacts with suspicion to the president’s aggressive campaigning for the drug.
— Vic 🍩 (@vicsepulveda) April 6, 2020
Retweet if you believe that #Novartis, #Mylan, #Amneal and #Teva — makers of #hydroxychloriquine which @POTUS has prescribed for the #coronavirus (and not yet approved by the FDA) have lined his pockets with more than a $10 million fee which is total chump change to #BigPharma pic.twitter.com/0H5NqJOjPh
— Andy Behrman (@electroboyusa) April 6, 2020
— Sandi McClure Daoust (@Weedbike) April 6, 2020