Speed Reads

He wants a new drug

Trump has a 'small personal financial interest' in hydroxycholorquine drugmaker. Allies have bigger stakes.

President Trump has been promoting the malaria and lupus drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 "with all of the enthusiasm of a real estate developer," even as the medical experts on his coronavirus task force have repeatedly "warned against overselling a drug yet to be proved a safe remedy, particularly for heart patients," The New York Times reports. Some hospitals in Sweden stopped using hodroxycholoriquinine to treat the coronavirus due to adverse side effects, and the International Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy rejected a positive French study it had published on the drug, cited by Trump.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease officials, has warned publicly and privately against promoting the drug absent studies showing its effectiveness, and "behind the scenes, career health officials have raised even stronger warnings about the risk to some Americans' heart health and other complications, but been warned not to publicly speak out and potentially contradict Trump," Politico reports. "Trump's focus on the drugs ... has increasingly warped his administration's response. Health officials have been told to prioritize the anti-malaria drugs over other projects that scientists believe have more potential to fight the outbreak." So...

"If hydroxychloroquine becomes an accepted treatment, several pharmaceutical companies stand to profit, including shareholders and senior executives with connections to the president," the Times reports. "Trump himself has a small personal financial interest in Sanofi, the French drugmaker that makes Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine." Other top Trump donors, allies, golf buddies, and Cabinet officials also have various ties to hydroxychlorquine.

On the other hand, some hospitals in New York are using the drug to treat COVID-19, with mixed results. Senior administration officials tell Politico that Trump really believes hydroxychloroquine could end the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump has told associates Oracle founder Larry Ellison first pointed him to the drug, and TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, Rudy Giuliani, and trade adviser Peter Navarro have boosted his faith. "He thinks that it's the drug that's going to get everyone back to work," one Republican close to the White House told Politico, joking: "Do you have a supply?"