Reuters Published a Startling New Report About Trump Pushing Anti-Malaria Drugs

Yuri Gripas/CNP via ZUMA Wire

The coronavirus is a rapidly developing news story, so some of the content in this article might be out of date. Check out our most recent coverage of the coronavirus crisis, and subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

For weeks, President Donald Trump has been pushing two anti-malaria drugs—chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine—as treatment for the novel coronavirus, despite a lack of scientific evidence that they, well, actually work to treat the novel coronavirus. Now Reuters has published a report that highlights how the president intervened to pressure federal health officials last month to put out a little-noticed but “highly unusual guidance informing doctors they had the option to prescribe the drugs, with key dosing information based on unattributed anecdotes rather than peer-reviewed science.”

As the story notes:

The episode reveals how the president’s efforts could change the nature of drug oversight, a field long governed by strict rules of science and testing. Rarely, if ever, has a U.S. president lobbied regulators and health officials to focus their efforts on specific unproven drugs.

“The president is short-circuiting the process with his gut feelings,” said Jeffrey Flier, a former dean of Harvard Medical School. “We are in an emergency and we need to rely on our government to ensure that all these potential therapies are tested in the most effective and objective way.”

The CDC guidance, Reuters notes, was essentially published without any sourcing. That is alarming! Experts agree:

Dr. Lynn Goldman, dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, says she was surprised to read the document guidance, after Reuters pointed it out to her. “Geez!” she said. “No references, no nothing! Why would CDC be publishing anecdotes? That doesn’t make sense. This is very unusual.”

Flier, the former Harvard dean, agreed. “It’s kind of offering these drugs up and suggesting that doctors might prescribe them when it’s obviously not established whether or not they are effective or harmful,” he said.

Just last night, Trump (again) spent a significant chunk of his press briefing encouraging Americans to take the drugs:

The story of how the guidance came to be is unsettling, somewhat complicated, and, unfortunately, given that it includes something the president saw on Fox News, not all that surprising. Read the full story here.

WE'RE TAKING A SHORT BREAK…

from the big banner at the top of our pages asking for the donations that make Mother Jones' nonprofit journalism possible. But we still have upwards of $300,000 to raise by June 30, whether we get there is going to come down to the wire, and we can't afford to come up short.

If you value the reporting you get from Mother Jones and you can right now, please join your fellow readers who pitch in from time to time to keep our democracy-advancing, justice-seeking journalism charging hard (and to help us avoid a real budget crunch as June 30 approaches and our fiscal year ends).

payment methods

WE'RE TAKING A SHORT BREAK…

from the big banner at the top of our pages asking for the donations that make Mother Jones' nonprofit journalism possible. But we still have upwards of $300,000 to raise by June 30, whether we get there is going to come down to the wire, and we can't afford to come up short.

If you value the reporting you get from Mother Jones and you can right now, please join your fellow readers who pitch in from time to time to keep our democracy-advancing, justice-seeking journalism charging hard (and to help us avoid a real budget crunch as June 30 approaches and our fiscal year ends).

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate