In a Cap Times op-ed, the Republican senator and former GOP governor hype a discredited drug.
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and ex-Gov. Scott Walker on Thursday published an op-ed in the Cap Times hyping up hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug falsely promoted by President Trump as an effective treatment for the coronavirus.
In an op-ed broadly calling for a bipartisan approach to fighting the virus, Walker and Johnson quickly descended into right-wing talking points, advocated for keeping the economy open, and pushed the unproven drug. They argued the medical community — which has widely discredited the use of hydroxychloroquine, or HCQ, in numerous studies — is only against the drug because Trump takes and touts it.
“If mounting evidence of HCQ’s effectiveness is confirmed, we have to ask how many people needlessly lost their lives because a potential therapy was politicized and its availability restricted — all because of Trump derangement syndrome,” the duo wrote.
But there is no mounting evidence the drug works for COVID-19. In fact, the evidence says the opposite.
They pointed to “two recent observational studies” (that they left unnamed) that found HCQ reduced COVID-19 deaths “by at least half.” One study published on July 2 by the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit has already been roundly criticized by the scientific community. Yet that study reinvigorated the White House’s push for use of the drug, despite the Food and Drug Administration discontinuing its use last month as an emergency coronavirus treatment.
“You want to look at the totality of the data,” Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, told the Washington Post in reference to the Ford study. “The totality is overwhelmingly in the opposite direction. You have to conclude with the Henry Ford study is an outlier and there’s some kind of confounder that is skewing the data and not representing the truth.”
The health system is also refusing to let the FDA speak with the study’s authors, the Post reported.
It is unclear what other study Walker and Johnson were referring to, but they did reference letters from both Baylor University and Henry Ford Health System urging the FDA to allow use of HCQ.
Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has publicly said HCQ has little to no effect on the virus.
“The scientific data is really quite evident now about the lack of efficacy for it,” Fauci told CNN in May.
The FDA, in a press release announcing its decision to revoke an emergency use authorization for the drugs, said continuing use or study of the drug’s effect on COVID-19 was dangerous.
“In light of ongoing serious cardiac adverse events and other potential serious side effects, the known and potential benefits of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine no longer outweigh the known and potential risks for the authorized use,” the administration said.