Trump Says He’s Taking Anti-Malaria Drug Hydroxychloroquine

President Donald Trump said he is currently taking hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug he has promoted as a treatment to combat coronavirus infection.

Trump said Monday at the White House that he’s been taking the drug for more than a week. Medical experts have cautioned against the use of hydroxychloroquine as the benefits against coronavirus were unproven and the treatment can carry significant negative health side effects.

The Food and Drug Administration on April 24 cautioned against the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, outside of a hospital setting or clinical trial, citing a risk of heart rhythm problems.

Trump said he began the treatment about a week and a half ago. That course would have followed revelations that an official in the White House had tested positive for the virus.

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Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, tested positive for coronavirus on May 8. Trump was not seen in Pence’s company following the diagnosis until Monday, when the vice president joined him for the meeting with restaurateurs.

When used by healthy patients on its own, hydroxychloroquine has a relatively well-established profile and is considered low-risk.

In several trials of hospitalized severe patients with Covid-19, it has been shown to raise heart risks and rates of death when combined with the antibiotic azithromycin. The medicine is known to interfere with the heart’s electrical signals in extremely rare cases, and can cause sudden death.

The drug is also being studied as a preventive, under the theory that the malaria pill might work for the new coronavirus, as well. While more than 100 clinical trials are ongoing, there’s been little solid clinical evidence to back the use.

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