Critics stew as FDA OKs coronavirus drug hailed by Trump

A malaria drug touted by President Donald Trump last week to treat patients for coronavirus was quickly politicized by his detractors who couldn’t care less about the sick and dying.

Imagine their consternation when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency authorization Sunday for chloroquine and derivative hydroxychloroquine, which have been used safely since the 1940s to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Doctors conducting small, randomized studies in other countries were reporting excellent outcomes for coronavirus patients. The drugs are also paired with azithromycin for more effective treatment.

Travelers to places like Africa have used these drugs for many years to ward off malaria. Some doctors are also taking them as COVID-19 prophylactics, hoping to protect themselves from contracting the disease. Patients who have recovered from the virus after receiving the drugs have also been sharing amazing stories.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announce in a statement Sunday: “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to BARDA to allow hydroxychloroquine sulfate and chloroquine phosphate products donated to the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible.”

Sadly there are people in the Democratic establishment, working hand-in-hand with the liberal media, who have a vested interest in Trump failing in his management of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are waging an information war against the administration for political reasons, not because they want to save lives or see an end to the human suffering. They are not fooling anyone with their thinly-veiled ‘news’ coverage.

Two weeks ago the president had announced that hydroxychloroquine would be made available almost immediately to treat coronavirus. “It’s been around for a long time, so we know if things don’t go as planned, it’s not going to kill anybody,” Trump told reporters at the White House. He said it was a common drug and would soon be available for “prescribed use” on coronavirus, calling it a “game-changer.”

“We have to remove every barrier or a lot of barriers that were unnecessary and they’ve done that to get the rapid deployment of safe, effective treatments and we think we have some good answers,” Trump said.

“So we slashed red tape to develop vaccines and therapies as fast as it can possibly be done, long before anybody else was even thinking about doing this. As you know, earlier this week we began the first clinical trial of a vaccine candidate for the virus,” Trump noted.

He discussed the clinical trials underway for new coronavirus therapies “scaling these to allow many more Americans to access different drugs that have shown really good promise.”

“We’ve had some really good promise. We will do so in a way that lets us continue to collect the data to know when,” Trump said.

“We have a couple that we’re in really good shape on. And that’s for immediate delivery. Immediate, like as fast as we can get it. The FDA has also approved compassionate use for a significant number of patients,” the president said.

Some liberal political activists were not pleased at this development. They started trashing the reputation of French researcher Didier Raoult, one of the most ardent promoters of hydroxychloroquine. He had publicized his findings from small trials showing that the drug was curing most of the participants.

Many seized on a report of a Phoenix-area couple in their 60s who mistakenly self-medicated with non-pharmaceutical chloroquine phosphate, a chemical used to clean fish tanks, blaming and ridiculing Trump. They were admitted to a nearby hospital where the husband died and his spouse required critical care.

Doctors and some state officials were also concerned the drugs would become unavailable for the patients who are maintained on them to avoid disability, illness and early death.

Slate contributor Robert Zaretsky wrote Tuesday: “President Donald Trump’s daily press briefing on the coronavirus pandemic has been compared to many things: state propaganda, daily talk show, three-ring circus. It is somehow all of these things, but it is also something else: an infomercial.”

“For the past two weeks, the president has been hawking a miracle cure: the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine. He has hailed it as “very encouraging,” a “phenomenal drug,” and “the biggest game changer in the history of medicine,” wrote Zaretsky. “Trump has also portrayed it as a Hail Mary: “What do we have to lose? I feel very good about it.”

The professor of history at the University of Houston’s Honors College rattled off several talking points that have popped up on various liberal websites for the last two weeks.

“It is no longer news that the scientist placed behind Trump during the briefings, Dr. Anthony Fauci, feels less good about the drug. Nor is it news that other American researchers worry we have much to lose if testing protocols are ignored. Lives, for example, can be lost. An Arizona resident died on March 23 after self-medicating himself with chloroquine phosphate—a related compound chemical typically used to clean aquariums—while doctors who prescribe hydroxychloroquine for patients with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are finding that the drug is being hoarded.”

Zelensky then trained his fire on the man he calls the “Trumpian French doctor,” claiming, “Trump may not be aware that the hydroxychloroquine hype is French in origin. The researcher responsible for the “molécule miracle” is Didier Raoult. The founder and director of Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire, or IHU, in Marseille, the 68-year-old Raoult has compiled a sometimes dazzling, sometimes disturbing career…,” he claimed.

“There are several disquieting parallels between the stable genius who claims to “understand that whole scientific world” and the reputed genius who claims to have defeated COVID-19. Like Trump, Raoult has made himself a brand: the outsider who defies a sclerotic and corrupt establishment,” Zaretsky argued.

Sadly, the last thing some hydroxychloroquine skeptics wanted were ground-breaking drug therapies that changed the trajectory of this pandemic worldwide. They needed a political game changer, not a potential coronavirus cure.

The French government has officially sanctioned prescriptions of chloroquine to treat certain coronavirus patients. Jérôme Salomon, France’s director general of health, said last week: “This ensures continued treatment of patients who have been treated for several years for a chronic condition with this drug, but also allows a temporary authorization to allow certain patients with coronavirus to benefit from this therapeutic route.”

Italy is also prescribing hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as treatments for coronavirus patients.

 The good news is 85% of patients will do well and make a complete recovery without any specific medications or treatment.