Editorial: We Should All Take Donald Trump’s Recommendation of Hydroxychloroquine Personally

Donald Trump’s relationship with hydroxychloroquine? We should take it personally. Trump’s casual announcement last week that he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a prophylaxis against COVID-19, knowing full well that some Americans would follow his example, demonstrated how little regard he has for Americans– those whom he has been entrusted to protect.

Trump began promoting the drug for treating COVID-19 back in March. Basing his support for the drug largely on anecdotal evidence and a small, non-randomized study, Trump touted it as a possible “game changer.” Our president, who is not our doctor nor anyone’s doctor, took it upon himself to recommend a prescription drug to the general public. No president should even recommend a daily aspirin, let alone an unproven and possibly dangerous prescription drug.

We should take that personally.

As expected, by late March, Trump’s allies and his base had jumped on the hydroxychloroquine bandwagon, with nothing more to go on than Donald Trump’s recommendation. A national shortage of the drug ensued, as physicians began writing prescriptions for their families and friends, “just in case.” As a result, patients who rely on the drug to treat serious autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis have been finding themselves unable to get their prescriptions filled.

Because of the serious shortage, the Lupus Foundation, along with other advocacy groups, began lobbying for legislation to protect the supply’s availability to those for whom hydroxychloroquine is a lifesaver. Donald Trump was unconcerned. He might as well have said to those with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and those who love them, “Yes, but you don’t really matter.” We take it personally.

Recently, medical experts have recommended against using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, citing cardiac risks, among others. Americans who have all along trusted science more than we trusted the president’s questionable motives for touting the drug, shook our heads and continued on. Many Trump supporters, however, were angry at the experts for disagreeing with Donald Trump’s advice to use the drug. Again, we shook our heads, but thought that Trump would stop talking about the drug, and the hydroxychloroquine hysteria would fade away.

Last week, when Trump said that he had been taking hydroxychloroquine as a prophylaxis against COVID-19, many Americans were stunned. Some wondered if he was really taking it. Others wondered if his doctor was just giving him a placebo to placate him. A few even speculated that Trump had COVID-19 and didn’t want to admit it. Some Trump supporters simply seized on more fuel for their hydroxychloroquine zealotry.

Since then, the WHO has officially warned against the use of hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19. It has currently halted its clinical trials using hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19, citing “concerns that the drug may do more harm than good.” (“Harm” includes possible death.)

Has Donald Trump stepped up in response to the WHO’s announcement to warn Americans or to walk back his recommendation of the drug? So far, no. The only response from the Oval Office on the topic of hydroxychloroquine has been silence.

If we weren’t already well aware of how little Donald Trump values the lives of others, his unrelentless desire for Americans to use hydroxychloroquine against the advice of medical experts should confirm it for us. Maybe he doesn’t consider the many Americans who will unquestioningly try to follow his example and poison themselves. Maybe he does consider that, and doesn’t care. Maybe he doesn’t consider anything but his potential financial gain from the drug’s widespread use.

Donald Trump has recommended a prescription drug that has been found to be risky and possibly lethal. It can also cause retinal damage and other serious side effects. Is there any scenario where we can believe that he isn’t disregarding our safety and well-being? Donald Trump and his recommendation of hydroxychloroquine? We should all take it personally.

Trump says he’s taking hydroxychloroquine. Dr. Gupta says he shouldn’t | CNN [2020-05-18]

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Bloomberg Markets and Finance | [2020-03-19]

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