Hydroxychloroquine: CIA warned employees over Trump-touted drug
“The drug is not recommended to be used by patients except by medical professionals prescribing it as part of ongoing investigational studies. There are potentially significant side effects, including sudden cardiac death, associated with hydroxychloroquine,” said the CIA warning its workforce.
Despite US President Donald Trump's promotion of anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a promising treatment for the novel coronavirus, the CIA warned its employees that the drug could lead to dangerous side effects, including sudden death.
The guidance was featured on a Central Intelligence Agency website specifically for its employees in late March, about a week after Trump first publicly suggested that the drug could be a “game changer” in the battle against COVID-19.
But according to health experts, there is no conclusive evidence that the drug does what the President has claimed.
“At this point, the drug is not recommended to be used by patients except by medical professionals prescribing it as part of ongoing investigational studies. There are potentially significant side effects, including sudden cardiac death, associated with hydroxychloroquine and its individual use in patients need to be carefully selected and monitored by a health care professional,” the website read in a question-and-answer section on March 27.
“Please do not obtain this medication on your own.”
The advice was posted as a response after an employee asked whether they should take the drug without a prescription, according to the Washington Post.
The CIA warning came about a week after Trump first touted the drug at a White House news conference. “I think it could be, based on what I see, it could be a game changer”.
He even threatened India – a major producer of the anti-malaria drug – of retaliation over the export of hydroxychloroquine. India, which manufactures 70 per cent of the world’s supply of the drug, had banned its export amid the coronavirus crisis but lifted it on April 7.
Trump says that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved hydroxychloroquine for treating coronavirus. He has already bought more than 30 million doses of Hydroxychloroquine for potential treatment of COVID-19 patients in the US. It is being tested on patients in the US, reports say.
But medical experts have sounded the same cautious note found in the CIA’s advice to its workforce. They have warned about side effects, such as heart arrhythmia, which can be fatal.
A recent study in Brazil of chloroquine, which is similar to hydroxychloroquine, was halted early because a number of test subjects developed dangerous heart problems, according to the Post.
Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said the data on hydroxychloroquine’s effectiveness against the virus is “really just at best suggestive.”