Donald Trump has revealed he is taking hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug he has pushed for weeks as a treatment for coronavirus – even though he has tested negative, and federal health agencies have warned of serious negative side effects for its use.
“I take it,” he told reporters. “All I can tell you is, so far, I feel okay.”
The president said on Monday he had taken only an initial dose. “It seems to have an impact,” he said. “Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t.....You’re not going to get sick and die.”
Mr Trump said he has taken the drug for “about a week and a half now”, adding: “I take a pill every day” and has had “zero symptoms”.
The president said he was taking the drug because “I’ve gotten a lot of calls” from medical professionals praising it. His revelation comes several weeks after the New York Times reported the Trump family has a financial tie to the parent company of one of the the firms that makes hydroxychloroquine.
Doctors who have prescribed hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus patients have done so to treat positive cases; Mr Trump alluded to taking it as a preventative measure.
The president, who has been an avid contrarian since he was a private citizen who was mulling a political career, continued that on Monday. He revealed he was taking the malaria medication despite a dire warning published late last month by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“The FDA is aware of reports of serious heart rhythm problems in patients with Covid-19 treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, often in combination with azithromycin and other QT prolonging medicines. We are also aware of increased use of these medicines through outpatient prescriptions,” the agency said. “Therefore, we would like to remind healthcare professionals and patients of the known risks associated with both hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. We will continue to investigate risks associated with the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for Covid-19 and communicate publicly when we have more information.”
Mr Trump said he was taking the drug under the care of the White House medical team.
Later on Monday, the White House released a statement from the president’s doctor, Navy Cdr Sean Conley, who said Mr Trump was taking the drug following discussions between the pair of them. He said they decided the “potential benefit outweighed the relative risks”.
the FDA warned last month: “Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing Covid-19. They are being studied in clinical trials for Covid-19, and we authorised their temporary use during the Covid-19 pandemic for treatment of the virus in hospitalised patients when clinical trials are not available,
“Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can cause abnormal heart rhythms such as QT interval prolongation and a dangerously rapid heart rate called ventricular tachycardia.”