CIA warned employees against using hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus: report
The CIA advised employees that taking an anti-malarial drug that has been touted by President Trump and others as a potential treatment for coronavirus could have potentially dangerous side effects, including death, The Washington Post reported.
The warning was reportedly published on a website for CIA staff with questions related to the coronavirus pandemic late last month.
“At this point, the drug is not recommended to be used by patients except by medical professionals prescribing it as part of ongoing investigational studies. There are potentially significant side effects, including sudden cardiac death, associated with hydroxychloroquine and its individual use in patients need to be carefully selected and monitored by a health care professional,” read a response to an employee who asked whether they should take the drug without a prescription, according to the Post.
“Please do not obtain this medication on your own,” was reportedly added in bold type.
The website also said there had been media reports saying the drug “has activity against the COVID-19 virus,” the newspaper noted.
“I’m not going to address any specifics, but information CIA provides to our global workforce has been—and will continue to be—consistent with the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and White House guidance,” a CIA spokesperson told The Hill.
Trump has called the drug a “game changer” and told reporters that it is “looking like it’s having some good results.”
“Just recently, a friend of mine told me he got better from the use of that drug, so who knows?” the president said on Monday
“I think if anybody recommended it other than me, it would be used all over the place,” he added.
But Trump also said earlier this month that those interested in the drug “have to go through your medical people, get the approval.”
Hydroxychloroquine has been widely used to treat malaria, in addition to lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Among some preliminary studies examining the drug’s effect on coronavirus, one potentially showed promise, but the result was later questioned by the publisher of the study, the Post noted. A small study in Brazil of chloroquine, a similar drug, was halted because multiple test subjects taking high doses developed irregular heat rates.
Earlier this month, Anthony Fauci, a leading member of Trump’s coronavirus task force, said that it is too soon to determine how effective the drug is against COVID-19.
“The data are really just at best suggestive. There have been cases that show there may be an effect, and there are others to show there’s no effect,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
–This report was updated at 1:27 p.m.