Washington — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned Monday that President Trump should not be taking hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug the president has touted as a treatment for COVID-19, given his age and because he is “morbidly obese.”
“As far as the president is concerned, he’s our president and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and in his, shall we say, weight group, morbidly obese, they say,” Pelosi said during an interview with CNN on Monday night. “So I think it’s not a good idea.”
Mr. Trump, 73, revealed to reporters during an event at the White House earlier Monday that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine and zinc as a preventative measure against the coronavirus. White House physician Dr. Sean Conley later confirmed in a memorandum he and Mr. Trump had several discussions about hydroxychloroquine and decided “the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.” A military aide working at the White House tested positive for the coronavirus, but Conley said Mr. Trump has continued to test negative for the virus and is in “very good health.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned against the widespread use of hydroxychloroquine, saying some patients who were treated with the drug showed “serious heart rhythm problems.” Others who had existing health issues like heart or kidney disease showed an increased risk of heart problems when treated with hydroxychloroquine.
The FDA also said that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine “have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19,” the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
When asked about Pelosi’s comments after meeting with Republican senators Tuesday, Mr. Trump told reporters, “I don’t respond to her. I think she’s a waste of time.”
He later claimed the California Democrat is a “sick woman” who has “a lot of mental problems.”
Mr. Trump has publicly advocated for hydroxychloroquine, saying in March it had a “real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine.” But in recent weeks, he has backed away from promoting the drug.
Mr. Trump’s revelation that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine was criticized by medical experts, including Dr. Manny Alvarez, the senior managing editor for health news at Fox News, who called the pronouncement “highly irresponsible.”
Some Fox News hosts such as Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have, like Mr. Trump, embraced hydroxychloroquine. But after the president told reporters he was taking the drug, Neil Cavuto, also a Fox News host, urged viewers to “be very, very careful” about following Mr. Trump’s lead.
“If you are in a risky population here, and you are taking this as a preventative treatment to ward off the virus, or worst-case scenario you are dealing with the virus, and you are in this vulnerable population, it will kill you. I cannot stress enough, this will kill you,” he said Monday.
Cavuto’s warning prompted pushback from Mr. Trump, who shared several tweets from users criticizing the host and the network.
Fox News, the president said on his Twitter account, “is no longer the same. We miss the great Roger Ailes. You have more anti-Trump people, by far, than ever before. Looking for a new outlet!”