Trump touts another unproven coronavirus cure backed by a top donor

President Trump wants the FDA to approve a COVID-19 'cure' that hasn't been thoroughly vetted but that one of his top donors has a financial interest in

U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he leaves the White House for a trip to Minnesota and Wisconsin August 17, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump is advocating for another unproven coronavirus cure and this time, it’s one that’s backed by one of his top donors.

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According to Newsweek, oleandrin is a botanical extract that is taken from the oleander plant. The plant is toxic to humans in its natural state. In lab testing, oleandrin has shown some efficacy in fighting cancers of the colon, pancreas, and prostate, but those studies are inconclusive as they have not been replicated in human trials.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 11: A healthcare worker gives a girl a throat swab test at a drive-in coronavirus (COVID-19) testing center at M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi School of Islamic Sufism on August 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. California reported 12,500 new cases after backlogged cases from a data glitch began appearing in the state’s system. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

In May, oleandrin was tested by the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) as a possible treatment for COVID-19, Newsweek reports. Those results were not considered valid enough to warrant further tests.

“Additionally, USAMRIID was contacted by University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, indicating that they were also testing it,” USAMRIID spokesperson Caree Vander Linden told Axios. “Given our inconclusive results, and having other high priority therapeutics to assess, we did not continue with this line of research.”

Coronavirus oleandrin Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump listens to U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson speak during a briefing in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on March 21, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Yet Trump was briefed on oleandrin during a meeting in the Oval Office in July, according to Axios. It was championed by Dr. Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon that is now the head of Housing and Urban Development who was able to get Andrew Whitney of Phoenix Biotechnology into that meeting.

Whitney is a main proponent of oleandrin, along with MyPillow founder and CEO Mike Lindell who has invested in the company developing oleandrin. Lindell is a friend of Trump and Carson’s and a big Trump donor. All three men attended the meeting along with a lawyer and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows at some point, The Washington Post originally reported.

Food and Drug Administration head Stephen Hahn, who would have to approve the drug for treatment for the virus, did not attend.

Whitney told Axios that oleandrin has been tested on humans but the study has not yet been published. He said he believes in it “100%” as a coronavirus cure and has “seen it with my own eyes.” Lindell has also championed oleandrin to the point of taking it himself and recommending it to family and friends.

While oleandrin could be fast-tracked for FDA approval as a supplement, not a drug, it could not then claim medical efficacy as a COVID-19 cure.

“The involvement of the Secretary of HUD and in pushing a dubious product at the highest levels should give Americans no comfort at night about their health and safety during a raging pandemic,” a senior White House who was not named told Axios.

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Trump pushed to get FDA approval for the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which some believe has had success against COVID-19. However, according to Newsweek, the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization was revoked in June after a clinical trial on coronavirus patients showed that the drug was not effective.

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