FDA head: Taking hydroxychloroquine ‘ultimately a decision between a patient and their doctor’
The decision to take hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug President Trump 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.
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 Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Monday on MSNBC.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (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.