Emails show how Dr Mehmet Oz directly promoted an antimalarial drug for Covid at the White House.
He emailed two senior advisers, asking them to push for the drug before clinical trials were completed.
Clinical studies have indicated that the drug, hydroxychloroquine, is not effective as a COVID-19 treatment.
Recently released emails from 2020 show how Dr. Mehmet Oz, now a Republican Senate candidate from Pennsylvania, promoted an antimalarial drug as a COVID-19 treatment directly at the Trump White House in the early stages of the pandemic.
The emails were exposed Wednesday in a report by the Select House Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis. They contain messages from Oz to top White House advisers, including Jared Kushner, son-in-law of former President Donald Trump, and Deborah Birx, who was the administration’s coronavirus response coordinator at the time.
Oz had emailed Birx and Kushner separately in March 2020 — a time when the United States was still finding its footing in its fight against the virus — urging them to push hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 before the end of clinical trials.
In his message to Birx, Oz called on the United States to begin patient trials for the drug as soon as possible and asked that American doctors be allowed to begin administering it as a Covid treatment if trials do not end. were not possible.
“We cannot hide behind study protocols if we are not allowed to continue,” he wrote.
“I want to push brave Americans to try out my show tomorrow, but I can’t without a game plan to access drugs,” he added. Oz wrote that he would “personally recruit patients and pay for a trial”, but had trouble finding the antimalarial pills.
He cited testimony from French microbiologist, Dr Didier Raoult, who said the drug was effective in eliminating 24 COVID patients in a test that was neither randomized nor peer-reviewed.
The same drug was also championed by Trump around the same time as a treatment for the coronavirus, even though there was no clinical evidence that duplicated the results reported by Raoult.
Hydroxychloroquine was one of many drugs researchers were scrambling to test amid the pandemic, but several studies later found it didn’t work as a treatment for COVID-19. In March 2021, the World Health Organization also strongly recommended against using the drug to prevent Covid infections.
Clinical trials, a “laborious process”: Oz
The same day Oz emailed Birx, he also emailed Kushner promoting a faster rollout of hydroxychloroquine to fight the pandemic.
He noted that the Trump administration and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s chief medical adviser, wanted to conduct randomized trials for the drug before declaring it a COVID-19 treatment.
However, Oz wrote that while these clinical trials were underway, the White House “may immediately authorize physicians” to use a drug mix involving hydroxychloroquine and another drug, azithromycin, to treat Covid patients. .
“Additionally, you should state that 130 million hydroxychloroquine pills are hitting the market, which can treat 5-10 million people and provide a clear timeline for additional supply to slow the coronavirus,” Oz wrote at Kushner.
When Kushner responded by saying that clinical trials of the drug were starting that week, Oz replied that such studies would be “a painstaking process that will take a month before we have results.”
He encouraged Kushner to make trials of hydroxychloroquine a “national priority and to insist on immediate listing.”
“It’s been almost a week since we learned of the French data and over a month since the Chinese data and we still have no trial patients,” he wrote. “Doctors and nurses are already struggling to find off-label pills, but at least we have a potential solution to the pandemic at our fingertips.”
Kushner replied, “What do you recommend to speed it up?”
A week after Oz emailed the two advisers, he sent Birx another message saying early studies of hydroxychloroquine had shown the drug “was safe and results were better than expected.” .
The thread shows that Birx forwarded the email to Stephen Hahn, who was then commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. “We should talk,” reads his email.
Oz’s posts are part of a larger House committee report that accused senior Trump administration officials of pressuring the FDA to allow unproven treatments to be used. COVID-19 emergency.
Hydroxychloroquine had been one of the main drugs that Trump advisers had pushed to be reinstated for emergency clearance, according to the report.
In June, Birx testified before the committee investigating the coronavirus crisis that people were communicating dangerous ideas about hydroxychloroquine to Trump “on a daily basis.”
Oz did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
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