CIA employees have been warned that Donald Trump’s favoured anti-malaria coronavirus treatment drug could potentially have life-threatening side effects, including sudden death, according to a report by The Washington Post.
Mr Trump has frequently recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine, a drug which is used in the treatment of malaria, in attempting to combat Covid-19 during his press briefings on a number of occasions.
However, in late March, the CIA workforce were warned against the drug on a website for CIA employees with questions related to the spread of coronavirus, according to The Post.
“At this point, the drug is not recommended to be used by patients except by medical professionals prescribing it as part of ongoing investigational studies,” the advice read, according to the report.
“There are potentially significant side effects, including sudden cardiac death, associated with hydroxychloroquine and its individual use in patients need to be carefully selected and monitored by a health care professional.”
The memo, which was posted in response to an employee’s enquiry as to whether they should take the drug without a prescription finished in bold type: “Please do not obtain this medication on your own”, the newspaper said.
The CIA declined to comment on internal workforce communications when contacted by The Post.
Trump’s endorsement of the proposal to use the anti-malaria drug has proved highly controversial over the last month.
In late March Mr Trump hailed the combination of hydroxychloroquine with an antibiotic known as azithromycin as a possible “way out” for the US against coronavirus.
The number of cases in the US of the disease surpassed 580,000 as of Tuesday. The country now has the most confirmed cases of the disease in the world.
“I want them to try it, and it may work and it may not work. But if it doesn’t work, there is nothing lost by doing it,” the president said earlier this month. “What do you have to lose?”
However, medical experts continue to insist there is no concrete scientific evidence of the drug’s effectiveness or safety when used against coronavirus.
“The evidence that you’re talking about … is anecdotal evidence”, said Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top diseases expert, in March, when asked if it was considered a treatment for Covid-19.
The basis for the belief in the drug comes from a small initial study in France which has been treated with scepticism.
“There could be deaths. This is a new virus, and so we should not be promoting any medication or drug for any disease that has not been proven and approved by the FDA,” American Medical Association president Dr Patrice Harris said in an interview with CNN.
Results from trials of the drug by the US Food and Drug Administration will not conclude for at least a month.
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