Though President Trump’s top immunologist has shown little interest in recommending use of a common antimalarial drug called hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus patients, a doctor in Los Angeles is reporting significant success with it.
As reported by local affiliate ABC7, Dr. Anthony Cardillo said he’s seen a lot of promising results after prescribing the drug in combination with zinc for the sickest COVID-19 patients.
Hydroxychloroquine has been regularly touted by President Trump as a possible treatment for the disease which has spread to more than 337,000 Americans as of this writing. Nearly 9,700 have died from the disease.
But National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci has resisted the president’s call to begin utilizing the drug because he says there isn’t enough ‘strong evidence’ to suggest it’s effective.
Cardillo, however, disagrees.
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“Every patient I’ve prescribed it to has been very, very ill and within 8 to 12 hours, they were basically symptom-free,” Cardillo told Eyewitness News. “So clinically I am seeing a resolution.”
Hydroxychloroquine has long been prescribed to treat malaria and other medical conditions like lupus and arthritis. It has not technically been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use as a COVID-19 drug, however.
But in recent days the agency issued guidance encouraging use of the drug in coronavirus trials.
ABC7 noted further:
He said he has found it only works if combined with zinc. The drug, he said, opens a channel for the zinc to enter the cell and block virus replication.
He added that the drug should not be prescribed for those who are presenting only mild symptoms, as there are concerns about shortages for patients with other conditions who need to take the drug on a regular basis.
Cardillo noted that the treatment only works on the severely ill.
“We have to be cautious and mindful that we don’t prescribe it for patients who have COVID who are well,” Cardillo said. “It should be reserved for people who are really sick, in the hospital or at home very sick, who need that medication. Otherwise we’re going to blow through our supply for patients that take it regularly for other disease processes.”
News of the drug’s coronavirus success comes as a battle inside the Trump administration brews over its use.
Reports Monday noted that White House trade adviser Peter Navarro clashed with Fauci over hydroxychloroquine, saying that the president should get a “second opinion” on whether it should be utilized on a wider basis.
Asked on CNN’s New Day why the public should listen to him instead of the top infectious disease expert in the nation.
“I’ll let him speak for himself, John, but I would have two words for you: second opinion,” Navarro said. “And in terms of the studies that exist, I think you would grant me that there are numerous studies on this, which show preliminary therapeutics.”
“Let me suggest, John, that later in the day, you have William Grace on, another famous doctor in the city of New York,” Navarro continued after host John Berman asked what qualifications he has to discuss the drug.
“He has, he can talk eloquently about this. But John, doctors disagree about things all the time,” Navarro continued. “My qualifications in terms of looking at the science is that I’m a social scientist. I have a Ph.D., and I understand how to read statistical studies, whether it’s in medicine, the law, economics, or whatever.”
In 2013, Fauci supported experimental use of established medications to treat another viral outbreak, MERS, according to a Sunday report. Scientists found that using a combination of two already-approved antiviral drugs appeared to be effective in knocking down MERS infections, and Fauci had no problem with their continued experimental use despite a dearth of clinical trials.
“We don’t have to start designing new drugs,” a process that takes years, Fauci says. “The next time someone comes into an emergency room in Qatar or Saudi Arabia, you would have drugs that are readily available. And at least you would have some data.
“If I were a physician in a hospital and someone were dying, rather than do nothing, you can see if these work,” he said at the time.