Almost from the beginning, Donald Trump has been pushing the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 despite the lack of a single random trial indicating that the drug had any net positive effect. The result of Trump’s relentless medicine show hectoring has been that doctors have issued so many off-label prescriptions that there is now a shortage of the prescription drug for those who seriously need it for treatment of malaria, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus. And, by zero surprise, earlier this week it became clear that Trump’s drug-pushing is pushing dollars straight into his own pocket, because he has a stake in the manufacturer.
Despite the lack of real evidence of efficacy, well-known cases of abuse, and the lack of any way to determine what might constitute an effective dosage, over the weekend the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention modified their website to join in promoting Trump’s personal enrichment scheme. But apparently there is still someone in Washington capable of embarrassment, because now the CDC has pulled down that language.
As Reuters reports, on Saturday the CDC website added this to the information it provides to doctors seeking treatment advice for COVID-19:
“Although optimal dosing and duration of hydroxychloroquine for treatment of COVID-19 are unknown, some U.S. clinicians have reported anecdotally... ”
This was followed by a number of “anecdotes” about how Trump’s favored drug might be administered. It didn’t quite advise to deliver it along with a Diet Coke and a load of hamberders (as Trump says), but it might as well, since what the CDC was peddling directly to doctors is also known as nothing more than unproven rumors.
After an uproar from medical professionals pointing out that the government was pumping out information that has: 1) already gotten people killed, 2) was definitely contributing to a shortage for people who badly need these drugs, 3) had no scientific basis, the CDC eventually changed the site on Tuesday evening.
The area that previously pushed Trump’s pet project now includes this sadly accurate language:
“There are no drugs or other therapeutics approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to prevent or treat COVID-19.”
The site doesn’t include warnings about off-label use of chloroquine, but at least it no longer seems to be actively making the situation worse.