Trump campaign cites fake science group to justify his use of unproven drug

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The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons has pushed anti-vaccine rhetoric and claimed HIV does not cause AIDS.

Donald Trump's reelection campaign manager on Tuesday defended Trump's preventive use of an anti-malaria drug unproven to work against the coronavirus, citing a fringe medical group known for promoting fake science.

"The press is going nuts over @realDonaldTrump taking hydroxychloroquine (prescribed by doctor)," Brad Parscale tweeted. "Of course, if he's doing it, they must oppose it. But the Assoc. of American Physicians & Surgeons says otherwise."

He linked to an April press release by the group titled "Hydroxychloroquine Has about 90 Percent Chance of Helping COVID-19 Patients" that claims it has "clear and convincing evidence that HCQ may be beneficial in COVID-19."

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But unlike the early studies the group references, subsequent research has not backed up claims for the use of hydroxychloroquine against the coronavirus.

In April, a limited study in veterans hospitals found no benefits to the drug as a treatment for the coronavirus and relatively more deaths among those given the drug. In early May, a study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine found the drug did not lower the risk of death or the likelihood of needing a breathing tube for patients treated at Columbia University in New York. A more recent French study also found little evidence that hydroxychloroquine was an effective treatment for COVID-19.

Moreover, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons is hardly a reliable source of medical information.

In a 2009 profile of the group, Mother Jones' Stephanie Mencimer wrote, "Yet despite the lab coats and the official-sounding name, the docs of the AAPS are hardly part of mainstream medical society. Think Glenn Beck with an MD." She noted that the group's "principles of medical ethics" says it is "evil" and "immoral" for doctors to participate in Medicare or Medicaid; that its journal published a claim that tobacco taxes harm public health; and that a 2008 article on its website suggested Barack Obama may have relied on "a covert form of hypnosis" in his presidential campaign.

The group's executive director is Jane Orient. Orient has decried what she termed the "health risks of homosexual behavior" and written that public accommodations for transgender people amount to a "radical social experiment" that puts at risk the "physical, psychological, and spiritual health" of children. In 2016, she wrote that universal health insurance coverage should not be the nation's goal: "The right to be uninsured is a necessary safeguard — not a threat to the system."

The Southern Poverty Law Center labeled the organization an "ultra-conservative/Libertarian" group with beliefs that "are often at odds with evidence-based modern research about public health." Among the "pseudoscientific and false claims" in its journal, the SPLC noted, were "that HIV does not cause AIDS; that abortion is linked to breast cancer; and that vaccines cause autism."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.