KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas congressman who’s also a doctor is joining President Donald Trump in taking hydroxychloroquine, a drug that is traditionally used to combat malaria and lupus.
But is it effective? It’s been around a lot longer than COVID-19, and the drug is gaining interest across the country.
“A couple of weeks ago I started taking it because I heard it’s good. I’ve heard a lot of good stories,” Trump said in a news conference.
Trump and Republican Congressman Roger Marshall said they’re taking it to prevent COVID-19. Marshall said he’s taken it before, and his family has taken the drug to ward of malaria on international mission trips.
“Due to previous international travel for mission work, my family and I had experience taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent malaria. I made the decision to again begin taking the drug prior to my work in health care facilities with known cases of COVID-19. As a physician, I am able to weigh the benefits and risks, and in this case, the benefits far outweigh the risks.”
Dr. Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease doctor with the University of Kansas Health System, said they are no longer using the drug to treat patients.
“I think the evidence right now that we have is pretty good that hydroxychloroquine alone or in combination for treatment of COVID-19 really doesn’t offer benefit to people,” Hawkinson said.
He said they are waiting to see the results of two studies. One called the Healthcare Worker Exposure Response and Outcomes (HERO) Study and another from the University of Minnesota.
“Unfortunately, it does have a significant side effect of having and can cause heart arrhythmias, which can lead to heart attack and death. And so it’s very important to be monitored pretty closely,” Hawkinson said.
In March, FOX4 spoke with Dr. Joe Brewer, another infectious disease doctor, who works with Plaza Infectious Disease Specialists. He believes the drug has positive results.
“It looks as though this could stem transmission and get rid of the virus rather quickly. There are dramatic effects coming from all over the world about how efficacious this is,” Brewer said.
Hawkinson said he hopes the results of these studies helps give doctors insight for the future.
“There’s been a lot of rush to do things in a quick manner,” Hawkinson said. “I think that’s OK. But I think we need to do it in a safe manner. I think we need to report on the accurate facts so that we moving forward we can best decide how to treat it and how to protect against it.”
Marshall said he’s experienced no negative side effects from the drug and said anyone who wants to use it should go through their physician to get a prescription.
The White House reports Trump will complete his use of the drug Friday.