President Donald Trump’s physician on May 18 confirmed that the president has been taking the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine and zinc to lower his COVID-19 risk.
The president’s physician, Sean Conley, said in a letter released by the White House on Monday that he and Trump decided that he should take the drug as “the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.”
Conley did not disclose in his letter how long the president had been taking the drug for, or what his current dosage is.
Just hours earlier, Trump said during a roundtable event at the White House that he had been taking hydroxychloroquine daily as a preventative measure for about a week and half.
The drug has been touted by Trump as a possible treatment in fighting the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, a novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, China, last year. Hydroxychloroquine is also used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and has been on the market for decades.
“I happen to be taking it,” Trump told reporters Monday. “A lot of good things have come out. You’d be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the front-line workers.”
Conley noted that two weeks ago, White House staff had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus. On May 8, Vice President’s Mike Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, tested positive for the virus.
Both Pence and Trump were subsequently tested for the virus, and both were cleared.
“The President is in very good health and has remained symptom-free,” he wrote. “He receives regular COVID-19 testing, all negative to date.”
Trump said he consulted Conley on taking the drug to the president, after which Conley did not object to prescribing it.
“In consultation with our inter-agency partners and subject matter experts around the country, I continue to monitor the myriad studies investigating potential COVID-19 therapies, and I anticipate employing the same shared medical decision making based on the evidence at hand in the future,” the presidential physician added.
There have been several clinical trials to see whether the drug is effective in fighting the virus. A recent study conducted by New York University’s School of Medicine found that a combination of hydroxychloroquine and zinc has been effective in some virus patients.
And a new trial evaluating the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin against the virus has started, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House pandemic task force, announced last week.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cautioned against taking hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat the virus outside of hospital settings or ongoing clinical trials. The agency said the drug can cause abnormal heart rhythms or create a rapid heart rate.
The president said Monday that he has had no side-effects from the drug and zero symptoms of COVID-19.
“I’m not [going to] get hurt by it. It’s been around for 40 years,” Trump said, adding that “you’d be surprised at how many people are taking” the drug. “For malaria, for lupus, for other things. I take it. Front-line workers take it. A lot of doctors take it.”
He doesn’t own stock in the firm that produces the drug, Trump said, adding that he wants Americans to not get sick.
“I don’t want them feeling sick. And there’s a very good chance that this has an impact, especially early on,” he said. “I take a pill every day. At some point, I’ll stop. What I’d like to is I’d like to have the cure and or the vaccine and that’ll happen I think very soon.”
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.