As a champion of hydroxychloroquine treatment for Covid-19, Trump promotes hope even if it’s baseless

As a champion of hydroxychloroquine treatment for Covid-19, Trump promotes hope even if it’s baseless

The New York Times reports:

Day after day, the salesman turned president has encouraged coronavirus patients to try hydroxychloroquine with all of the enthusiasm of a real estate developer. The passing reference he makes to the possible dangers is usually overwhelmed by the full-throated endorsement. “What do you have to lose?” he asked five times on Sunday.

Bolstered by his trade adviser, a television doctor, Larry Ellison of Oracle and Rudolph W. Giuliani, a former New York mayor, Mr. Trump has seized on the drug as a miracle cure for the virus that has killed thousands and paralyzed American life. Along the way, he has prompted an international debate about a drug that many doctors in New York and elsewhere have been trying in desperation even without conclusive scientific studies.

Mr. Trump may ultimately be right, and physicians report anecdotal evidence that has provided hope. But it remains far from certain, and the president’s assertiveness in pressing the case over the advice of advisers like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease specialist, has driven a wedge inside his coronavirus task force and has raised questions about his motives.

If hydroxychloroquine becomes an accepted treatment, several pharmaceutical companies stand to profit, including shareholders and senior executives with connections to the president. Mr. Trump himself has a small personal financial interest in Sanofi, the French drugmaker that makes Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine.

“I certainly understand why the president is pushing it,” said Dr. Joshua Rosenberg, a critical care at Brooklyn Hospital Center. “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.”

A senior physician at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn, where doctors are not providing the drug, however, said the current demand was worrisome for patients on it chronically for rheumatic diseases. At St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, another doctor said his staff was giving it to coronavirus patients but criticized the president and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for “cheerleading” the drug without proof. “False hope can be bad, too,” he said. [Continue reading…]

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