Dr. Birx reminds country not to take unproven drug after Gohmert says he's on it


The FDA has concluded the anti-malaria drug is ineffective against the coronavirus.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the Trump administration, on Thursday debunked the notion that an anti-malaria drug can cure coronavirus just a day after a Republican congressman who tested positive for the virus announced he would start taking it.

"We know in the randomized controlled trials to date — and there's been several of them — that there's not evidence that it improves those patients' outcomes," Birx told Fox News. "Whether they have mild, moderate disease or whether they’re seriously ill in the hospital."

Birx's comment came less than a day after Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) announced he would begin taking hydroxychloroquine following a positive coronavirus test result.

"My doctor and I are all in," Gohmert told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday. Gohmert said he would begin taking the medication "in a day or two."

As early as March, Donald Trump touted hydroxychloroquine — prescribed both as an anti-malaria drug and to treat symptoms of Lupus — as a potential coronavirus cure, even as his administration experts said there was no evidence to support the claim.

On March 23, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, was asked if there was any evidence the drug could prevent coronavirus.

"No," he replied. "The answer ... is no."

Since April, scientific studies have shown that the drug does not help in cases of the coronavirus. In mid-June, the Food and Drug Administration ended its emergency authorization allowing hydroxychloroquine to be used to treat it.

The FDA pulled the authorization "based on new information, including clinical trial data results, that have led [the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority] to conclude that this drug may not be effective to treat COVID-19," Denise Hinton, the agency's chief scientist, wrote at the time.

However, the evidence did not stop Trump from pushing the medication.

In May, Trump announced he was taking a course of hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure to keep from contracting the virus.

In early July, Trump tweeted about the benefits of the drug as a coronavirus cure, citing an outlier study questioned by experts.

On Tuesday, Trump praised Stella Immanuel, a doctor who falsely claimed the drug could cure coronavirus. Immanuel also believes some health problems arise from women having sex with demons.

On July 1, the FDA issued a warning against anyone using hydroxychloroquine outside of a hospital or a clinical trial due to "reports of serious heart rhythm problems and other safety issues, including blood and lymph system disorders, kidney injuries, and liver problems and failure."

Gohmert's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.