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FDA head: Taking hydroxychloroquine 'ultimately a decision between a patient and their doctor'

FDA head: Taking hydroxychloroquine 'ultimately a decision between a patient and their doctor'
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The decision to take hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug President TrumpDonald John TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE has championed as a potential coronavirus treatment, should be made by a patient and their doctor, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn said Tuesday. 

“The decision to take any drug is ultimately a decision between a patient and their doctor. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are already FDA-approved for treating malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis,” Hahn told The Hill in a statement. 

The FDA issued a warning last month that hydroxychloroquine should not be taken outside of a hospital or clinical trial because of the risk of severe heart problems.  

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Trump said on Monday that he had been taking the drug for about a week and a half along with a zinc supplement. 

The president said he consulted with the White House doctor about hydroxychloroquine, but he was not explicitly recommended to take it since he has not tested positive for the coronavirus. 

"I asked him, 'What do you think?'" Trump said, referring to his physician. "He said, 'Well, if you’d like it.' I said, 'Yeah, I’d like it. I’d like to take it.'"

The White House later released a memo from the president's physician saying he and Trump had discussed the use of the drug and determined “the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.” 

Top Democratic lawmakers criticized Trump for saying he is taking the drug. 

"I know him saying he is taking it, whether he is or not, is reckless, reckless, reckless. It gives people false hope, has people avoid real medical attention and can actually cause them trouble. It is just dangerous what he did," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerProtect America's houses of worship in year-end appropriations package Club for Growth to launch ad blitz in Georgia to juice GOP turnout Inequality of student loan debt underscores possible Biden policy shift MORE (D-N.Y.) said Monday on MSNBC. 

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Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiClub for Growth to launch ad blitz in Georgia to juice GOP turnout Governors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight MORE (D-Calif.) said it’s “not a good idea” for Trump to be taking the drug. 

"I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and in his, shall we say, weight group, morbidly obese, they say," Pelosi said during an appearance Monday on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."  

"So, I think that it's not a good idea," she said.

Trump, 73, has a listed height of 6 feet, 3 inches and a weight of 243 pounds, according to results of his medical exam released last year.