During a White House press conference on Monday (May 18), Donald Trump said he’s been taking the drug hydroxychloroquine, an unproven treatment for the coronavirus that he has previously promoted.
"A lot of good things have come out about the hydroxy. A lot of good things have come out. You'd be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the front-line workers — before you catch it," the president said. "I happen to be taking it. I happen to be taking it. ... I'm taking it — hydroxychloroquine — right now."
Trump said he doesn’t believe he was exposed to the virus and decided to take the drug after consulting with his White House doctor. He also claimed essential workers were taking the drug to prevent contracting the disease.
The Food and Drug Administration has warned against using hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 outside of the hospital due to the risk of its side effects, which include serious heart problems. The drug is an antimalarial drug commonly used to treat lupus and rheumatoid disease. Currently, there are no approved treatments for the coronavirus.
During his justification as to why he’s taking the unproven therapeutic, Trump said: "Because I think it's good. I've heard a lot of good stories.
He added: "I'm not going to get hurt by it. It's been around for 40 years.”
During the press conference, Trump dismissed questions about studies that found that the drug wasn’t an effective treatment for the coronavirus and touted a "well-crafted" letter he said he received from a doctor in Westchester, New York, who claimed to have treated patients with hydroxychloroquine, zinc and the antibiotic azithromycin, a combination known commonly as a Z-Pack.
"I've taken it for a week and a half now, and I'm still here," he said.
The American Medical Association, the American Pharmacists Association and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists released a joint statement in April acknowledging "that some physicians and others are prophylactically prescribing medications currently identified as potential treatments for COVID-19."
"We strongly oppose these actions," the statement said. "We caution hospitals, health systems, and individual practitioners that no medication has been FDA-approved for use in COVID-19 patients."