President Donald Trump has repeatedly ruffled media feathers with his push to make the drug hydroxychloroquine available to Americans suffering from COVID-19.
In its headlines chronicling Trump’s unyielding drive to get the drug into the hands of Americans who might need it, The New York Times has referred to Trump’s effort to promote an “Unproven Drug” and claimed that effort “Divides [the] Medical Community.”
Elsewhere, The Times accused Trump of “Ignoring Expert Opinion,” and creating “fears among doctors that it could unnecessarily expose patients to risks.”
But Democratic Michigan state Rep. Karen Whitsett, who represents parts of Detroit, has a different story that she is bound and determined to tell about hydroxychloroquine: “It saved my life.”
Hydroxychloroquine is designed to treat malaria.
The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates pharmaceuticals, has issued an emergency use authorization for the drug, so that doctors can prescribe it when a clinical trial is not feasible.
Trump has said that because the drug shows some promise — and there is nothing else on the horizon that can be shown to do so — Americans who are in danger of dying should be allowed the chance to take it.
During an appearance Monday on the Fox News program “The Ingraham Angle,” Whitsett endorsed Trump’s call for Americans to have a chance at taking the drug, citing nothing more scientific than her own journey back from death’s door.
“I really want to say that you have to give this an opportunity,” she said.
“For me, it saved my life. I only can go by what it is that I have gone through and what my story is, and I can’t speak for anyone else,” Whitsett added. “So that’s not what I’m trying to do here. I’m only speaking for myself.”
Whitsett said she went into self-quarantine on March 12. She saw a doctor on March 18, and was diagnosed with pneumonia and prescribed the antibiotic drug amoxicillin.
Then on March 31, she tested positive for coronavirus. She said her health “just plummeted” that day.
“It went from the headaches to being severe to fluid building up in my lungs, to sweats breaking out, the cough, my breathing being labored,” she said. “It all happened in a matter of hours.”
Whitsett then ran into bureaucracy. Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had at first banned the use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for coronavirus, but then relented.
“I did have a difficult time, even that day, obtaining the medication because of an order that was put down in my state,” Whitsett said.
“And it was on that day, so you can imagine how terrified I was that I had to really beg and plead and go through a whole lot to try to get the medication.”
Within a “couple hours” of taking the drug, she said, her health improved.
Whitsett said that without Trump touting hydroxychloroquine at the daily briefings of the coronavirus task force, it could not have been an option for her.
“If President Trump had not talked about this, would it not be something that’s accessible for anyone to be able to get that right now,” she said.
“He is the only person who has the power to make it a priority,” she told the Detroit Free Press, further saying: “I do” believe Trump may have saved her life by pushing for the drug.
During Saturday’s White House coronavirus task force briefing, Trump made it clear that his support for the drug comes in the absence of anything else that has shown any impact against the disease.
Trump said sick Americans with few other options should embrace the choices they have.
“I say it: What do you have to lose? I’ll say it again: What do you have to lose?” he said. “Take it. I really think they should take it. But it’s their choice and it’s their doctor’s choice, or the doctors in the hospital.”
“[I]f this drug works, it will be not a game-changer, because that’s not a nice enough term; it will be wonderful. It’ll be so beautiful. It’ll be a gift from heaven if it works,” Trump added.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.