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The Lamentable Controversy over Hydroxychloroquine

Pendhamma Sindhusen is a conservative columnist and political analyst.

(From left to right) Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Trump, Vice President Pence and Dr. Deborah Birx, key members of the Coronavirus Task Force, at a daily White House press conference on April 4

(From left to right) Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Trump, Vice President Pence and Dr. Deborah Birx, key members of the Coronavirus Task Force, at a daily White House press conference on April 4

In today’s world of politicization and polarization, barely anything escapes the fate of being embroiled in political contention. Hydroxychloroquine, the medicine originally for treatment of malaria-stricken patients and those affected by lupus, which has been touted by President Trump for treatment of COVID-19 patients, is no exception.

As I laid out in my previous article, we all know the mainstream media has a distinct prejudice against the president and would not relinquish such prejudice ever, even in a time of crisis where unity is most needed like this. But could they do it when it comes to potentially saving lives of people infected by the new Coronavirus?


Hydroxychloroquine, the drug originally for malaria and lupus treatments, which has been promoted by President Trump in the past weeks

Hydroxychloroquine, the drug originally for malaria and lupus treatments, which has been promoted by President Trump in the past weeks

Regrettably, the answer to that question, at least at this moment, is a plain no. The media, and critics of President Trump in general, have been raising doubts and disputes over Hydroxychloroquine’s efficacy in remedying Coronavirus patients, and calumniated the president’s endorsement of the drug as cultivation of corporate interests.

Their major repertoire is the assertion that scientific evidence for its efficiency is flimsy and that Trump is only praising it to avail pharmaceutical companies in which he has investment benefits. Mika Brzenski suggested her viewers to “follow the money” while CNN and other news media keep on running articles presenting how limited research evidence for Hydroxychloroquine against SARS-CoV-2 is in an attempt to undermine the president’s championship of its use, just to name a few instances.


While the assertion is partially true in that research evidence for Hydroxychloroquine’s effectiveness in its newfound domain is limited, there are abundant anecdotes of it working in curing COVID-19 patients. Take Michigan state representative Karen Whitsett for example. She was severely stricken by the Coronavirus and thought she was in an end stage. However, only hours after taking Hydroxychloroquine, she said she was recovering already.

A Democrat herself, she thanked Trump for his push for the use of the drug, which she accredited her recovery to. “For me, it saved my life”, she said, speaking of it in an interview with Laura Ingraham.

The medication has shown propitious results elsewhere too. In Los Angeles, Dr. Anthony Cardillo reported every patient he’d prescribed it to went from “very, very ill” to “symptom-free” while in New York, Dr. Mohammud Alam has remarked recoveries of 81% of patients treated with it.


But not only in the United States are such promising anecdotes refined to. A number of other countries have been using Hydroxychloroquine to treat their patients and seeing positive outcomes. It has been prescribed by a whopping 72% by doctors in Spain, 49% in Italy and 41% in Brazil.


What’s more, in a poll conducted by Sermo.com, a reputed international social media network for physicians, the drug tops the list as the most effective means of therapy for Coronavirus patients, and Dr. Joshua Rosenburg, medical director of the Brooklyn Medical Center, called it “at this point, the best, most available option for use.” At the same time, a poll conducted nationwide by Jackson and Coker, a prominent healthcare staffing firm, reveals that as much as 65% and 67% of doctors across America would prescribe it for their family and themselves, respectively, in case of infection.

These anecdotes and records are important, even though the drug may not have been researched intensely on its role in curing COVID-19 patients, which is entirely sensical and not surprising. COVID-19 is a neoteric disease, and time is a prerequisite for research to be done and firm evidence to emerge to either corroborate or refute claims of the drug’s potency. For the media and Trump critics to stigmatize it because it currently lacks a corporeal scientific ground is entirely misleading.

What’s even more misleading is their preposterous claim that the president’s advocacy of Hydroxychloroquine use is in his own interests of self-enrichment. The claims go that when it instigates a substantial surge in sales of the drug, beneficently contributing to profits of drug-making companies in which he has stakes, munificent financial benefits would accrue to him.


Plaquenil, a brand name of Hydroxychloroquine produced by Sanofi, a Paris-based pharmaceutical company in which Trump has a small amount of stakes via mutual funds

Plaquenil, a brand name of Hydroxychloroquine produced by Sanofi, a Paris-based pharmaceutical company in which Trump has a small amount of stakes via mutual funds

While Trump does have some financial interests in Sanofi, the French-based pharmaceutical company that produces Hydroxychloroquine under the brand name “Plaquenil”, through mutual funds in family trusts he has no control over but instead managed independently by J.P. Morgan investment bank, those interests are merely negligible, according to fact checkers at Snopes.com. Hydroxychloroquine is a genetic drug and thus would make a picayune amount of profits compared to other proprietary drugs, they explained.


Besides, many patients infected by the new virus are terminal or on the path to continual exacerbation of symptoms. Treating them with a drug renowned to be effective in many cases, albeit unproven, could potentially help save them, lead to recovery and alleviate the crisis. Of course, the drug may not be a panacea, but wouldn’t that be worth the risk?


The entire country and world are at war with an enemy we have yet to savvy much about. SARS-CoV-2 is highly contagious and proves to be lethal in many cases. Taking every possible step to preclude its spread and save lives it’d take is not only preferable but imperative. That surely includes employment of any medication that, even though unproven against a pathogen wholly novel to us, could actually work against it and not denying terminally sick and severely affected patients of a possible means to bring about their recovery and save their lives.

This issue should neither be partisan nor political. The media and Trump critics should for once forgo their parochial political belligerence and the desire to take the president down at every turn he takes, for the sake of saving Coronavirus patients. They should for once capitulate and end their partisan objection to Hydroxychloroquine. President Trump’s buoyantly touting it, not because he wants to ingratiate himself to corporate interests or augment his personal wealth. He's doing so because he wants to save lives or at least attempt to. As he put it, what do those patients “have to lose?”


© 2020 Pendhamma Sindhusen

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