Former FDA chief Gottlieb surprised Trump would 'need' hydroxychloroquine

Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb responded Tuesday to President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments Ocasio-Cortez: Trump contributed less in taxes 'than waitresses and undocumented immigrants' Third judge orders Postal Service to halt delivery cuts MORE’s claim that he has been taking the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic against the coronavirus, saying he was surprised the president would “need” to take the drug.

“My belief would be that he’s at very low risk of contracting COVID,” Gottlieb told CNBC, noting that Trump and everyone who comes into contact with him is being tested regularly.

“So I would hope that even if there was a drug that could provide some prophylactic value, some preventative value, the president himself wouldn’t need to use it because he’d be in a bubble,” Gottlieb added. “Now, obviously the president made a decision with his physician about what to do, I just hope that they’re protecting him very well in terms of his exposure to this virus.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Gottlieb noted that the drug, frequently prescribed to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, was initially used and prescribed off-label by some front-line health care workers during the pandemic.

“Initially a lot of doctors were taking [it] prophylactically …. I think they’ve pulled back, because a lot of the subsequent data hasn’t been encouraging,” Gottlieb said. “We want this to work, but it doesn’t seem like it’s working, at least in the studies that we have right now.”

Trump said Monday that he has been taking the drug, which he has frequently touted as a possible treatment.

"Here’s my evidence: I get a lot of positive calls about it," Trump told reporters Monday.

In a letter released by the White House Monday evening, presidential physician Sean Conley said he and the president had discussed the risks and benefits of the drug after Trump’s personal valet was diagnosed with the coronavirus, but did not include any details about how long the president has been taking it or the dosage.