White House preparing to promote malaria drugs on online platform to combat coronavirus: report
The White House is reportedly planning to promote the use of two malaria drugs frequently touted by President Trump as a potential treatment for coronavirus despite their unproven benefits, using a platform built by the tech firm Oracle.
The platform is slated to be used to collect information about off-label uses of the two drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, The New York Times reported on Tuesday. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is still reviewing both drugs’ effectiveness in treating the coronavirus, and top public health officials have warned against jumping to conclusions on their effects.
Health and Human Services agencies such as the FDA and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are part of the Oracle efforts, as is the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the Times reported, citing two senior administration officials, who said the platform could be used to gather data from doctors who prescribe the drugs and track symptoms in patients.
Dr. David Agus, a professor of medicine and engineering at the University of Southern California, is also reported to be working with the White House and Oracle and has repeatedly promoted the use of the drugs against the virus, saying on television recently that “the earlier you use them, the better.”
Health officials within the administration have reportedly expressed dismay about Trump’s promotion of bypassing standard clinical trials for the drugs as a coronavirus remedy.
Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, met Tuesday afternoon with Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus coordinator; Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Stephen Hahn, the FDA’s commissioner, to discuss concerns with the plan and Chinese data indicating the drugs are ineffective, the Times reported.
Trump, meanwhile, has grown increasingly bullish on the drugs, which numerous Fox News personalities and contributors to whom he plays close attention have promoted. Trump said last Thursday that “we’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately,” while Hahn said at the same conference that the FDA would ensure any such products were “safe and effective” first.
Meanwhile, on Monday, an Arizona man died while his wife was hospitalized at Banner Health after they both ingested chloroquine phosphate, a substance often used to clean fish tanks. The woman told NBC News that she took the product after seeing Trump tout its effectiveness.
“This is not going to be a magic pill for us to get us through this,” Daniel Brooks, a medical director with the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center, said Monday.
The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.