President Trump presided at today’s White House task force briefing to announce regulatory relief for the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat the Wuhan virus. This was the briefing’s headline news, though many of the questions went off in other directions.
President Trump expressed enthusiasm about the possibilities presented by these drugs specifically, an enthusiasm which he emphasized several times. Indeed, he circled back to express it toward the conclusion of the briefing. Despite the restraint with which he expressed himself, I believe he is as excited about the prospects for relief as we are. We are talking about drugs already approved for other uses, drugs whose risks and side effects are therefore well known.
The president had FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn in attendance with him to discuss the therapies whose use the FDA is expediting. As I understood Hahn’s remarks, the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine is to be limited at present to compassionate use situations while clinical data are compiled. He stated that these already approved anti-malarial and anti-arthritis drugs would be “made available almost immediately by prescription.” He also discussed the expedited use of other therapeutics that are “close to approval.” Given the urgency of the situation, the vagueness and limitations of the anticipated use of these drugs (as I heard Hahn’s remarks) was frustrating.
Reading or listening between the lines of Trump’s remarks, I also heard Trump saying he hopes to ease the current federal guidelines that have resulted in shutdowns at the end of the current two-week period. Whether that hope is reasonable under the circumstances is another question. I should like to think it is.
The video below begins at about 8:15. I encourage readers who have been following along with us as we have tried to address the issues at the forefront of today’s briefing to take a close look.