The President is taking hydroxychloroquine. Should we worry?

During a press briefing on May 18, President Donald Trump revealed that he is taking hydroxychloroquine along with zinc to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19.

“I want the people of this nation to feel good. I don’t want them being sick and there’s a very good chance that this [hydroxychloroquine] has an impact, especially early on,” Trump told reporters on May 18. “But you look at frontline workers, you look at doctors and nurses, a lot of them are taking it as a preventative (sic) and… they take the Z pack or the azithromycin for possible infection… now, I haven’t taken that other than an original dose… [and] you don’t have to take it simultaneously, but the zinc you do take — so I’m taking the two — the zinc and the hydroxychloroquine, and all I can tell you is so far I seem to be OK.”

He said he based his decision to take the triple combo on a letter from a doctor in Westchester, New York, whom he didn’t name, who told Trump of its success with his own patients.

“This is a pill that’s been used for a long time, for 30-40 years on malaria or lupus and even arthritis… I’ve taken this for about a week and a half now, and I’m still here.” Trump did not say what dosage of hydroxychloroquine and zinc he is taking. Based on his statement, it appears that he started taking the drug at about the time that two White House staff members tested positive for Covid-19.

As the cases and deaths from Covid-19 continue to multiply, one has to ask, will evidence-based medicine be the next Covid-19 victim?

Speaker Pelosi Expresses Concern Given Trump is Morbidly Obese

Upon hearing the news that the President was self-medicating in order to ward off Covid-19, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) said: “As far as the President is concerned, he’s our President and 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. So, I think it’s not a good idea.”

Let take first things first — obesity.

Obesity, FDA Warnings, and Arrythmias

Pelosi is correct. Were the President to contract Covid-19, it is likely he would not fare well, as was found in a study from France, which showed that those with a BMI greater than 35 kg/m2 who contracted Covid-19 had a 7-fold greater risk of needing mechanical ventilation than those who were thinner. It’s worth noting that the president is not “morbidly obese” — he is actually about 77 pounds shy of a BMI of 40, which would put him in that category.

But let’s look at the greater concern — self-medicating with hydroxychloroquine in an attempt to ward off the virus. Trump’s own FDA warned against its use because of what the agency called “serious and potentially life-threatening heart rhythm problems” when used by Covid-19 patients.

This warning most likely stemmed from a study from Brazil that looked at chloroquine, which is similar to hydroxychloroquine, that found arrythmias and death in Covid-19 patients when used at high doses.

Another study conducted by the Veteran’s Administration, which is not yet peer reviewed, showed that using hydroxychloroquine did not reduce the need for mechanical ventilation. Trump has repeatedly slammed that study, noting that the drug was given to severely ill patients—a group that he called the wrong patients.

Then there are the studies from JAMA Cardiology. One study that found that “93% of patients treated with hydroxychloroquine, with or without azithromycin, showed an increase in QTc after its administration and 36% experienced prolonged QTc within 2 to 5 days of treatment.” Another study in the same issue looking at the hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin combo also found Qtc prolongation of 500 milliseconds or more in patients receiving this treatment. These were previously reported by BreakingMED.

But while the President certainly has the right, on the advice or even without the advice of his personal physician, at issue is what the ostensible leader of the free world is projecting to the country and the world. When medical experts advise against taking hydroxychloroquine because of untoward side effects, yet the President continues to tout the therapy, people listen, and act. When he was simply saying he thought it would be a game changer, Google searches surged as people sought information about hydroxychloroquine, and one person died after drinking fish tank cleaner containing chloroquine thinking it would cure his Covid-19.

Candace Hoffmann, Managing Editor, BreakingMED™

Cat ID: 190

Topic ID: 79,190,254,930,791,932,574,190,926,192,927,151,928,925,934