‘Trump kept saying it was basically pretty much a cure…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) A drug that President Donald Trump has publicly touted a possible coronavirus remedy came under attack from misleading media reports after an Arizona couple that attempted to “self-medicate” with a similarly-named substance fell critically ill.
The pair ingested chloroquine phosphate, a chemical used in both anti-malarial pharmaceuticals and in fish-tank cleaning solutions.
Trump had previously tweeted about the former, which has been on the market as a prescription for decades and could be a “game changer” in the ongoing global struggle to contain the pandemic.
HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. The FDA has moved mountains – Thank You! Hopefully they will BOTH (H works better with A, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents)…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 21, 2020
But according to a report by the Washington Post, the couple ingested the aquarium cleaner, assuming it to be the same.
“After hearing the name ‘chloroquine’ spoken frequently on the news, the wife noticed that the chemical solvent used to keep their koi pond clean included the same ingredient, with the purpose of killing aquatic parasites that may gather in the fish tank over time,” said American Greatness. “The couple decided to pour some of it into their sodas and drank it.”
Although the two, both in their 60s, had not tested positive for coronavirus, the woman claimed, “We were afraid of getting sick,” according to NBC News.
The man ultimately died, and his wife remains critically ill. Even so, NBC News managed to interview her and then to spin the blame back at the president.
“Trump kept saying it was basically pretty much a cure,” said the woman, who also advised others: “Don’t take anything. Don’t believe anything. Don’t believe anything that the president says and his people … call your doctor.”
Arizona man dies after ingesting chloroquine in an attempt to prevent coronavirus. https://t.co/BG4xyZnKFv
There are no drugs approved to try to prevent or treat the new coronavirus. Self-medicating to prevent the coronavirus can be dangerous and possibly deadly.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 23, 2020
While some sources noted that the couple had ignored conventional, common-sense wisdom not to mistake household cleaning solutions for prescription medications, others conveniently left off that part.
A story in The Hill confusingly conflated the two substances as if they were the same. It cited an equally vague statement from Banner Health, the company that had treated the couple.
“Given the uncertainty around COVID-19, we understand that people are trying to find new ways to prevent or treat this virus, but self-medicating is not the way to do so,” said Daniel Brooks, Banner Poison and Drug Information Center medical director, in the statement.
While failing to note that the specific case was more akin to poisoning than “self-medicating,” the Banner Health statement went even farther, discouraging other hospitals from prescribing the prospective cure.
“The last thing that we want right now is to inundate our emergency departments with patients who believe they found a vague and risky solution that could potentially jeopardize their health,” Brooks continued.
Brooks also bashed the use of any treatments described as ‘anti-COVID-19,’ including chloroquine, since none have been formally approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
“We are strongly urging the medical community to not prescribe this medication to any non-hospitalized patients,” Brooks said.
During a press briefing on Friday, Trump and his leading coronavirus taskforce advisor, Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, expressed disagreement about the treatment.
Fauci cautioned that the stories of positive results were anecdotal and that it had not undergone clinical trials, which could take months, before it is officially cleared to treat the new virus.
But Trump took a more hopeful stance after a reporter questioned him about the experimental treatment.
“It’s not a drug that you have a huge amount of danger with,” Trump said. “It’s not a drug that may have an unbelievable effect, like kill you … I’m not being overly optimistic or pessimistic. I sure as hell think we oughta give it a try.”
Although many in the media hyped the rift between the president and his medical expert, Fauci said the two fundamentally agreed on matters of substance (i.e. that the treatment could be a potential cure) but differed in matters of style (i.e. how quickly to promote and distribute it without further testing).
“The President was trying to bring hope to the people,” Fauci told Face the Nation on Sunday. “I think there’s this issue of [the media] trying to separate the two of us. There isn’t fundamentally a difference there.”
DR. FAUCI: “The President was trying to bring hope to the people. I think there’s this issue of [the media] trying to separate the two of us. There isn’t fundamentally a difference there.” pic.twitter.com/lSygidey2a
— Ken Farnaso (@KLF) March 22, 2020