Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Trump Holds "Financial Interest" In Pharmaceutical Company That Produces Hydroxychloroquine

Well, would you look at that?

Now we know why Donald Trump has been obsessed with hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria and lupus, for almost three weeks. He has a financial interest in Sanofi, a French pharmaceutical company that manufactures the drug under the brand Plaquenil and stands to profit if the drug is approved to treat coronavirus.

The New York Times reports:
If hydroxychloroquine becomes an accepted treatment, several pharmaceutical companies stand to profit, including shareholders and senior executives with connections to the president. Mr. Trump himself has a small personal financial interest in Sanofi, the French drugmaker that makes Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine. ...

The professional organization that published a positive French study cited by Mr. Trump's allies changed its mind in recent days. The International Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy said, "The article does not meet the society's expected standard." Some hospitals in Sweden stopped providing hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus after reports of adverse side effects, according to Swedish news media. ...

Mr. Trump first expressed interest in hydroxychloroquine a few weeks ago, telling associates that Mr. Ellison, a billionaire and a founder of Oracle, had discussed it with him. At the time, Dr. Mehmet Oz, the host of television's "The Doctor Oz Show," was in touch with Mr. Trump's advisers about expediting approval to use the drug for the coronavirus. ...

At his briefing after the meeting, he said it was wrong to wait for the kind of study Dr. Fauci wanted. "We don't have time," the president said. "We don't have two hours because there are people dying right now."

Some associates of Mr. Trump's have financial interests in the issue. Sanofi's largest shareholders include Fisher Asset Management, the mutual fund company run by Ken Fisher, a major donor to Republicans, including Mr. Trump. A spokesman for Mr. Fisher declined to comment. Another investor in both Sanofi and Mylan, another pharmaceutical firm, is Invesco, the fund previously run by Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary.
"We don't have two hours" ... says the man who did absolutely nothing but ignore and downplay any possible threat for eight weeks while the virus sunk its roots into the entire country, who did not even start ordering critical supplies until mid-March, and and who continues – even now – to refuse requests for essential equipment, telling individual states to go find the stuff themselves, and good luck.

Quick timeout. What these people said:
After learning about the drug from Fox News, Trump began hyping the unproven drug as a possible miracle cure on March 19. Trump stated numerous times that the FDA approved the drug. That is a lie. In the last day or two, Trump has embellished that fictional account even further, touting hydroxychloroquine as a possible vaccine. Trump has no evidence for either of his claims.

Trump hyped the drug throughout late March and into April. On April 4, his statements began to veer into incoherence.

April 4
And I hope they use the hydroxychloroquine, and they can also do it with Z-Pak, subject to your doctor's approval, and all of that. But I hope they use it because I'll tell you what: What do you have to lose? In some cases, they're in bad shape. What do you have to lose? It's been out there for a long time, and I hope they use it. And they're going to look at the — with doctors. Work with doctors. Get what you have to get. But we have it stockpiled, and it's — we have a lot of it, and we're getting more of it. ... We're getting more of it, but we have a lot of it. And I hope they use it, because it's been used for a long time and therefore it's passed the safety test. ... I've seen some results. Now, it's early, I guess. It's early. But — and you should — they should look at the lupus thing. I don't know what it says, but there's a rumor out there that — because it takes care of lupus very effectively, as I understand it. It's a, you know, a drug that's used for lupus.
So there's a study out there that says people that have lupus haven't been catching this virus. You know, maybe it's true, maybe it's not. Why don't you investigate that? And there's also other studies, you know, with the malaria, that the malaria countries have very little — people that take this drug for malaria, which is very effective for malaria — that those countries have very little of this virus. I don't know. You're going to check it out. But I think people should — if it were me — in fact, I might do it anyway. I may take it. Okay? I may take it. And I'll have to ask my doctors about that, but I may take it. ... There's a possibility, a possibility, and I say it. What do you have to lose? I'll say it again. What do you have to lose? Take it. I really think they should take it, but it's their choice, and it's their doctor's choice or the doctors in the hospital. But hydroxychloroquine. Try it, if you'd like. ... If this drug works, it will be, not a game changer, because that's not a nice enough term. It will be wonderful. It'll be so beautiful. It'll be a gift from heaven if it works. ...

[India makes] large amounts of hydroxychloroquine — very large amounts, frankly. And I said — they had a hold, because, you know, they have 1.5 billion people, and they think a lot of it. And I said I'd appreciate it if they would release the amounts that we ordered. ... But they do make — India makes a lot of it. But we have already 29 million. If you look — I mean, that's a big number. Twenty-nine million doses. And we've got millions of doses that are being made here and many millions of doses that are made elsewhere that are being shipped here, and it will be arriving. ... But I'll just speak for myself: It's been out for a long time. It's a malaria drug. It's also a drug for lupus. And there's a — there's a study out that people with lupus aren't catching this horrible virus. They're not — they're not affected so much by it. Now, maybe that's correct; maybe it's false. You're going to have to check it out. But there's a lot of very positive things happening with that. That's a game changer if that's the case. ... But tremendous promise with — with what's just been mentioned.
April 5
And the other thing that we bought a tremendous amount of is the hydroxychloroquine — hydroxychloroquine — which I think — as you know, it's a great malaria drug. It's worked unbelievably. It's this powerful drug on malaria. And there are signs that it works on this. Some very strong signs. And, in the meantime, it's been around a long time. It also works very powerfully on lupus. Lupus. So there are some very strong, powerful signs, and we'll have to see. ... This is a new thing that just happened to us — the "invisible enemy," we call it. ... I just think it's something — you know the expression, I've used it for certain reasons: "What do you have to lose?" What do you have to lose? And a lot of people are saying that when — and are taking it — if you're a doctor, a nurse, a first responder, a medical person going into hospitals, they say taking it before the fact is good. But what do you have to lose? They say, "Take it." ... But we have some very good signs. So that's hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. And, again, you have to go through your medical people, get the approval. But I've seen things that I sort of like. So what do I know? I'm not a doctor. I'm not a doctor. But I have common sense. ... [W]e have it stockpiled — about 29 million doses. Twenty-nine million doses. We have a lot of it. We hope it works. We are working very, very hard. ... These are doctors that are working so hard on vanquishing the virus. ... We're committing to the people of our country like few administrations, few people, few professionals have ever committed before. ... A vaccine would be great. ... We'll see what happens. In the meantime, you may listen to what I said about the two drugs mentioned. ...

Q Mr. President, but the doctors who are treating coronavirus patients, they have the medical expertise to determine whether or not they should prescribe hydroxychloroquine.

That's true. And many of them do.

Q And there are already clinical trials in place looking at hydroxychloroquine. Why not just let the science speak for itself? Why are you promoting this drug?

I'm not. I'm not. I'm just saying —

Q You're coming out —

— very simply. I'm not at all. I'm not. Look, you know what I'm trying to do? I'm trying to save lives.

Q Well, you come out here every day — right, sir? — talking about the benefits of hydroxychloroquine.

I want them to try it. And it may work, and it may not work. But if it doesn't work, it's nothing lost by doing it. Nothing. ... It's a very special thing. Now, it may not work, in which case, hey, it didn't work. And it may work, in which case, it's going to save a lot of lives. Now, a lot of people say, if the people walking in prior to getting it, if they take it, it has a profound effect. Well, maybe it does and maybe it doesn't.

Q Where is the conclusive medical evidence of that, sir?

I don't want to wait a year and a half to find out. And only CNN would ask that question. Fake news. A bunch of fakers. ...

[Later on] Q And would you also weigh in on this issue of hydroxychloroquine? What do you think about this? And what is the — what is the medical evidence?

Do you know how many times you've answered that question?

DR. FAUCI: Yeah —

Q But I'd love to hear from the doctor.

Maybe 15. Fifteen times. You don't have to ask the question.

Q He's — he's your medical expert, correct?

He's answered that question 15 times. ...

Q Sir, on the equipment issue, records show that federal agencies did not begin —

Oh, stop it.

Q — did not begin —

Who are you with? By the way, who are you with?

Q With the Associated Press, sir.

Who you with?

Q The Associated Press. Agencies didn't begin bulk —

That's another beautiful — that's another beautiful (inaudible) —

Q — bulk purchases of respirators and N95 masks until mid-March.

Are you ready? Are you ready? Let me just answer your question because I know exactly — you know, the same question you ask all the time. Ready?

Q It's the first time I've asked this, sir.

They have done an unbelievable job in delivering — For the Associated Press, which is, you know, not so great, not like it used to be. The people that you're looking at — FEMA, the military — what they've done is a miracle. What they've done is a miracle in getting all of this stuff. What they've done for states is incredible. And you should be thanking them for what they've done, not always asking wise-guy questions. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. Thank you. [Trump ends press briefing]

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