RELEASE: ‘People Are Dying Who Don’t Have To’: Lupus Patient Speaks Out As Trump-Touted Hydroxychloroquine Reaches Supply Shortage, Fails COVID-19 Patients

Washington, D.C. — The Center for American Progress Action Fund is releasing a new video in a social media campaign as the consequences of President Donald Trump’s stream of consciousness and unscientific musings about COVID-19 treatments come into focus. For weeks, President Trump touted the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for COVID-19, despite warnings from health experts, including Trump’s own top infectious diseases adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who said there was only “anecdotal evidence” of the drug’s effectiveness. Moreover, President Trump pushing hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment has created a supply shortage for patients who actually need it for non-COVID-19 treatments.

The new video tells the story of Amiee Kushner from San Francisco, who relies on hydroxychloroquine to treat her lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Kushner has had the prescription for three years and has never had a problem getting refills. As she says in the video, all that changed when President Trump began promoting the drug as a treatment for COVID-19, causing her insurance to stop prescribing it for her and other non-COVID-19 patients nationwide.

“He’s created a situation where there is a run on this drug,” Kushner says. “Kaiser was no longer refilling plaquenil [hydroxychloroquine] prescriptions. They were going to utilize it for COVID-19 patients.”

President Trump’s controversial suggestion came under scrutiny as studies began to show that COVID-19 patients that were treated with hydroxychloroquine could experience harmful side effects such as blindness or heart problems and that they had higher mortality rates than patients who were not treated with the drug. The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning against the use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 after reports of a number of deaths and severe poisonings began to surface. The most comprehensive study to date found it ineffective as a treatment, with increased rates of death. According to Kushner, President Trump’s leadership—or lack thereof—is costing lives. 

“Telling people to prophylactically take this drug that has extreme side effects is totally dangerous. It requires a lot of doctor supervision,” Kushner said. “It’s being taken out of the hands of people who actually need it. People are dying who don’t have to.”  

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