On Monday, in a spontaneous comment following a White House meeting with restaurant industry leaders, President Trump revealed that he has been taking the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine for “about a week and a half now ”to protect yourself from COVID -19.
When asked why, the President replied that he had heard from a number of people, including a doctor in Westchester, New York, that it was a good preventative measure. He said he had consulted with the White House doctor who said that he did not object to him taking the medicine.
Asked about the evidence he has that the drug works, the president said, “Here’s my evidence: I get a lot of positive calls about it.”
The Food and Drug Administration, according to the Washington Times, has warned against using hydroxychloroquine “outside the hospital or a clinical trial because of the risk of heart rhythm problems”. The National Institutes of Health have also advised physicians to use caution when prescribing it.
On Fox News, host Neil Cavuto interviewed Dr. Bob Lahita, president of medicine at St. Joseph University Hospital in Paterson, New Jersey. Dr. Lahita said he saw “no effect” when hydroxychloroquine is used to treat the coronavirus. In fact, said Dr. Lahita, if taken in combination with certain other drugs, it could cause arteries to expand, which could be fatal.
Instead of taking and promoting this unproven and potentially dangerous drug, the president should have touted a new vaccine produced by the American company Moderna. The New York Times reports that the company tested eight healthy volunteers and found the experimental vaccine to be “safe and caused a strong immune response.” The results put the vaccine, known as mRNA, on an accelerated schedule so that larger human trials can begin.
It is always dangerous, especially when it comes to medication, to believe anecdotal information. The president said that the anonymous doctor had written praise for hydroxychloroquine. He also said that thousands of front line health workers were taking the drug for prophylaxis.
Although I have no doubts about the president’s sincerity, he has no medical training and has never even played a doctor on television. It is dangerous to promote drugs that are little known and it is even more dangerous to take them at your age and at what seems to be your growing weight.
Throughout history, there have been sellers of snake oil. The term dates back to the mid-1800s and is linked to Chinese contract workers who were brought to America to work on the transcontinental railway, bringing their medicines with them. These workers literally rubbed snake oil on their aching joints, relieving their pain, but also caught the attention of Americans.
A National Public Radio report broadcast in 2013 asked, “So how did a legitimate drug become a symbol of fraud?” The origins of snake oil as a derogatory phrase can be traced back to the second half of the 19th century, which saw a dramatic increase in the popularity of “patented medicines”. Often sold on the back page of newspapers, these tonics promised to cure a wide variety of ailments, including chronic pain, headaches, “female complaints” and kidney problems. Over time, all of these fake “cures” began to be called snake oil. “
I saw these advertisements in clippings from old newspapers. One was placed by a traveling “doctor”, who said he could diagnose female conditions while the women were fully clothed. The remedy was a bottle he sold, the contents of which he probably mixed.
Television evangelist Jim Bakker is being sued by the Missouri attorney general for promoting a cure for the coronavirus. Bakker calls it “Silver Solution”. The lawsuit is aimed at preventing Bakker and his company from advertising the product, which he sells for $ 80 a four-ounce bottle.
Although President Trump does not exactly match the profile of a snake oil seller, he should stick to solid medical science and start betting on mRNA and other promising vaccines.
Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist and author. Readers can email him at: [email protected].
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