Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday accused President Trump of “giving people false hope” after the president revealed earlier that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine despite a lack of evidence proving the drug to be effective in treating and preventing the novel coronavirus.
“What the president did with hydroxychloroquine was reckless, simply reckless,” Schumer during an appearance on MSNBC. The New York Democrat also said that Trump was “giving people false hope” with his comments and said “people may take it instead of going to the doctor.”
“But it’s worse than that,” he continued. “His own FDA has said it has bad side effects, whether it affects the rhythm of the heart in many bad ways. For him to say this is reckless, it shows no regard for the public.”
Earlier on Monday, Trump said that he decided to start taking hydroxychloroquine, which he has touted as a potential treatment for the novel coronavirus, less than two weeks ago after claiming to hear positive reviews about the drug from medical professionals working on the front lines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Here’s my evidence: I get a lot of positive calls about it,” he said, adding: “So far, I seem to be OK.”
Evidence from the medical community showing the drug to be a potential treatment for the virus remains scarce. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned last month that the drug has not yet “been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19.”
“Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can cause abnormal heart rhythms such as QT interval prolongation and a dangerously rapid heart rate called ventricular tachycardia,” the agency said at the time. “These risks may increase when these medicines are combined with other medicines known to prolong the QT interval, including the antibiotic azithromycin, which is also being used in some COVID-19 patients without FDA approval for this condition.”
In further comments during his television appearance on Monday, Schumer also speculated that Trump could have been dishonest in his remarks earlier, saying: “One thing you don’t know, maybe he is really not taking it because the president lies about things characteristically.”
The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.
Sean Conley, Trump’s physician, said in a letter released by the White House on Monday that the president was taking hydroxychloroquine after they concluded “the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.”
“In consultation with our inter-agency partners and subject matter experts around the country, I continue to monitor the myriad studies investigating potential COVID-19 therapies, and I anticipate employing the same shared medical decision making based on the evidence at hand in the future,” Conley said in the letter.
When pressed whether he was might have had information to suggest that Trump was being dishonest earlier, Schumer said he did not but added that he thinks the president “seems at the press conferences oftentimes to go into flights of fancy and make things up.”
“I don’t know whether he is taking it or not. I know him saying he is taking it, whether he is or not, is reckless, reckless, reckless. It gives people false hope, has people avoid real medical attention, and can actually cause them trouble. It is just dangerous what he did,” Schumer said