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FDA chief: Hydroxychloroquine use a decision between doctor and patient

Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said the decision to take hydroxychloroquine should be made between a doctor and a patient.

Tal Axelrod, The Hill, Jul 30, 2020

"We had data that when this drug was combined with others, there was some risk associated with that. But the question you're asking me is a decision between a doctor and a patient," Hahn said on NBC's "Today" show.

"A doctor and a patient need to assess the data that's out there, FDA does not regulate the practice of medicine, and that in the privacy of the doctor-patient relationship is where that decision should be made."

Hydroxychloroquine was thrust back into the news this week after President Trump doubled down on his support for the drug in spite of medical evidence questioning its efficacy as a treatment for COVID-19 and raising concerns over possible side effects.

"It's safe. It doesn't cause problems. I had no problem. I had absolutely no problem," Trump told reporters Tuesday at the White House, referencing his own use of the drug for 14 days earlier this year. "It didn't get me, and it's not going to, hopefully, hurt anybody."

"Many doctors think it's extremely good, and some people don't," he added. "I think it's become very political."

The president also praised a doctor who appeared in a video he retweeted this week that praised the controversial drug as a COVID-19 treatment and said people don't need to wear masks. The video has since been removed from several platforms for violating misinformation policies.

The president's remarks flew in the face of warnings from health officials. The FDA withdrew an emergency authorization last month over growing evidence from several trials showing the drug is not effective at treating COVID-19 and can possibly harmful side effects, including heart rhythm irregularities.

"The overwhelming prevailing clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective in coronavirus disease," Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, said on "Good Morning America" Tuesday.

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