Coronavirus

Americans Made a Run On Trump’s Deadly Virus Cure

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Before Trump claimed he was taking (and then no longer taking) hydroxychloroquine, he spent months hyping the anti-malaria drug as a miracle cure for the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, but the consequences of this were evidently not limited to dubious clinical trials that resulted in more deaths than normal treatment would.

A truly insane number of Americans rushed out to acquire hydroxychloroquine after Trump hyped the drug according to figures published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

From CNBC:

U.S. prescriptions for malaria drug hydroxychloroquine surged nearly 2,000% in March when President Donald Trump first promoted the drug as a potential treatment for the coronavirus, according to a new study published in JAMA.

During the week of March 15 to March 21, there were 45,858 short-term prescription fills for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, compared to 2,208 in 2019, according to researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School whose findings were published Thursday.

The researchers said 28-to-60 day and 61-plus day prescriptions generally used by people with chronic conditions like Lupus jumped 179% and 182%, respectively, during that week. They said overall there were 483,425 excess prescriptions fills of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in the 10 weeks from Feb. 16 to April 25 examined by the study.

Scattered reports that people with conditions like Lupus were having trouble actually filling their prescriptions have come into sharper focus now. They couldn't gets their meds because a whole lot of other people who don't need it bought the entire supply.

My first thought when reading this report was to wonder how many deaths this run on the drug led to. We know that patients treated with hydroxychloroquine in hospitals were nearly twice as likely to die based on numbers from the Department of Veteran Affairs' hospital system so there must be people who died at home after taking the drug. It could be months or years until we know, but I suspect at least some excess deaths that haven't been directly attributed to the coronavirus could be attributed to unnecessary use of hydroxychloroquine. In any case, I'm sure the number is greater than zero.

My second thought, of course, was that someone made a lot of money off this phony cure. Members of Trump's family or people they're associated with or connected to probably did.

  • muselet

    I don’t necessarily blame people for asking their doctors about hydroxychloroquine, given the frequency with which the stuff was mentioned by Donald Trump and Righty media. Direct-to-patient advertising (“Ask your doctor if [insert name of latest wonder drug here] is right for you!”) is unfortunately effective.

    I do blame the doctors who wrote that mind-boggling number of prescriptions for HCQ, knowing that people with malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis actually need the drug, and knowing the side effects include an increased chance of death. Any doctor who prescribed HCQ for off-label use needs to be investigated and possibly reprimanded by their state medical boards.

    –alopecia

    • The GP who was our family doctor for 20 years retired a few years ago and moved out of state. At some point he became a Trump supporter and echoed Trump’s initial enthusiasm for the drug, posting on Facebook that he recommended it to everyone he knew. He hasn’t rescinded that recommendation, even in the face of what we now know. Asshat.