“Everybody get on hydroxychloroquine!” So said one of the politically-wired “Frontline Doctors” who gave a press conference in Washington DC earlier this week. The doctor claims to have used it on more than 300 Covid-19 virus patients without a single fatality, and that the randomized trials which have failed to prove that hydroxychloroquine (HCQ, for short), has any benefit in treating COVID-19 were “fake science.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had issued a limited Emergency Use Authorization to facilitate the distribution of HCQ from the national stockpile, but the explicitly said in its authorization letter: “Chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate are not FDA-approved for treatment of COVID-19.” The authorization was withdrawn in mid-June.
Donald Trump, on record as having testing negative for Covid-19, has expressed high approval of the drugs for Covid-19, but it turns out that he may have more than health-oriented motive: a financial stake in Sanofi, the French company that makes Plaquenil, the brand-name version of HCQ.
The financial news site MarketWatch and The Washington Post estimate Trump’s personal stake to be worth between about $100 and $1,500. But his trust accounts may have amassed via other investments. Mr. Trump has reported that his three family trusts each had investments in a Dodge & Cox mutual fund, whose largest holding was in Sanofi.
In addition, some associates of Mr. Trump’s have financial interests in the future of HCQ. Sanofi’s largest shareholders include Fisher Asset Management, the investment company run by Ken Fisher, a major donor to Republicans, including Mr. Trump. Another investor in both the Sanofi and Mylan pharmaceutical firms is Invesco, the fund previously run by Wilbur Ross, Trump’s current commerce secretary.
A Sanofi spokesperson said the company no longer sells or distributes Plaquenil in the United States. Several generic drugmakers are gearing up to produce HCQ pills, including Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Mylan and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Amneal co-founder Chirag Patel is a member of the Trump National Golf Course club in Bedminister New Jersey: he has golfed with Mr. Trump at least twice.
“What do you have to lose?” Trump asked at a press briefing this week urging those sick with the virus to take the drug.
“There could be deaths,” American Medical Association president Dr. Patrice Harris said.
“This is a new virus, and so we should not be promoting any medication or drug for any disease that has not been proven and approved by the FDA.”