Intrigue swirls over Trump’s staunch support of controversial drug

April 7, 2020

President Trump once again has been pushing hydroxychloroquine as an effective treatment for COVID-19. But experts are not so sure.

According to an Axios report, a White House coronavirus task force meeting over the weekend got tense after Anthony Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease director, objected to the White House’s characterization of the drug’s effectiveness. Trump’s economic advisor, Peter Navarro, reportedly disagreed and got into a heated exchange with Fauci as the two debated whether or not the evidence supporting hydroxychloroquine is robust enough.  

Some small clinical trials have shown that hydroxychloroquine, which is approved to treat malaria and several autoimmune diseases, could potentially slow the progression of COVID-19. But in other trials, the drug’s impact has been limited. A number of larger-scale clinical trials using hydroxychloroquine are now underway, but the limited and mixed data has kept many health experts from considering the drug a sure-fire treatment for COVID-19.

Nevertheless, Trump and several of his close allies have remained vocal in their support for the use of the drug, prompting many to wonder why. The support of other Republicans is only raising more questions. 

In the last few weeks, the Job Creators Network (JCN), a conservative U.S. advocacy group, blasted out text messages to Americans saying that they should “Tell Trump to CUT THE RED TAPE” and make hydroxychloroquine easily available. Created by billionaire Trump supporters, including Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, JCN also reportedly received a $500,000 donation in 2017 from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the industry’s largest trade group.

A recent New York Times report also pointed to potential investment ties between Trump and Sanofi, a company that makes hydroxychloroquine. But Trump’s stake in Sanofi could reportedly be as small as $99.

Read the full Reuters report.