For weeks, both President Trump and Fox News have promoted the malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as a potential cure for coronavirus, but now the Food and Drug Administration has published warnings for doctors not to prescribe the drugs following reports of “serious” poisoning and deaths.
The agency says the drugs should only be used in hospitals or during formal clinical trials in order to “decrease the risk of life-threatening heart problems” associated with their use.
Friday’s FDA warning follows a study, reported by the AP on Tuesday, from the National Institutes of Health and the University of Virginia, that showed “more deaths among those given hydroxychloroquine versus standard care.” In the study, which included 368 males afflicted with the virus, 28 percent who were given hydroxychloroquine died, compared to 11 percent who received only routine care.
According to Politico, prescriptions for the medicines have steadily increased since Trump touted them, claiming that because they are used for other ailments that they’ve “passed the safety test.” But that doesn’t take into consideration side effects like heart arrhythmia from the drugs or account for patients with pre-existing conditions who might unknowingly assume its safe for them because the president of the United States said so.
In early April, Trump literally told the public to “take it” while speaking about hydroxychloroquine, adding, “What do you have to lose?”
Since mid-March Fox News has also irresponsibly championed the drugs, with little proof of safety or effectiveness. Both the president’s and the “news” channel’s blitz campaigning for the medicine took on the feel of a never-ending infomercial until approximately April 16 when, for reasons still unknown, both basically stopped touting the drugs. According to Politico and Media Matters, Fox’s chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine coverage dropped 77% from the week before and has continued to grow quieter and quieter on what Tucker Carlson called the “ideal medicine.”
So, for both Trump and Fox News, the answer to the president’s question, “What do you have to lose?” might be two things: credibility, and now, apparently, American lives.
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