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Giuliani Has Been Pushing Trump on Use of Anti-Malaria Drug

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Giuliani Has Been Pushing Trump on Use of Anti-Malaria Drug

2020-04-06 16:52:21

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: "Rudy Giuliani" (Image source: Gage Skidmore, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

While you might think Rudy Giuliani would just be happy he and his client, Donald Trump, survived the impeachment drama, that doesn't seem to be the case for the former mayor of New York City. He's sticking his nose into the coronavirus pandemic and pushing treatments, despite having a law background and not a medical or science background.

Giuliani said he's made one-on-one calls to Trump, pushing the drug combination of the anti-malaria drug and a popular antibiotic to treat COVID-19. While the president has pushed the same, there has been no evidence provided to show that it's actually effective.  

Giuliani claims this how he now spends his time: speaking with doctors on the phone, as well as having conversations with coronavirus patients and hospital executives. All the while, he's been pushing the anti-malaria drug.

"I discussed it with the president after he talked about it," Giuliani said in an interview. "I told him what I had on the drugs." 

The former mayor has also shared similar comments on his Twitter account and in a podcast he records. Along with pushing the anti-malaria cocktails, he's also been pushing a stem cell therapy that involves extracting "placenta 'killer cells.' "

Trump, Giuliani, and other Trump supporters downplayed the severity of COVID-19 and then jumped on this possible cure. Health experts have fears that all these comments could harm the efforts to slow the pandemic and downplay the risks of treatments that have not been proven. 

Pushing the drugs puts Giuliani's name back in the news, when he's been "out of the limelight since the end of the impeachment drama," explained Giuliani biographer Andrew Kirtzman, who is writing his second book about him. "What you're seeing is an effort to regain relevance."

While insiders say his name has not come up in White House Coronavirus Task Force meetings, Giuliani claims to have spoken directly to the president "three or four times" about a potential coronavirus treatment. He talked up the results of a study in France that suggested anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine may help treat the virus. "There are obviously other people around him who agree with me," said Giuliani.  

On the other side of the aisle, while he doesn't often agree with Trump, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has said there's a "good basis" to believe the malaria treatment could work and that the drugs were going to be used for New York patients.

Trump has touted the anti-malaria cocktail at his daily press briefings, saying it could be one of "the biggest game-changers in the history of medicine." 

The FDA issued an emergency authorization of the anti-malaria drug for some COVID-19 patients last week. Michael Felberbaum, spokesman for the agency, said that decision was made by experts on the staff after extensive discussions with other officials and based on the scientific evidence that was available.

He said "the known and potential benefits to treat this serious or life-threatening virus outweigh the known and potential risks when used under the conditions described in [the order]." 

Trump said this past Saturday that the drug has passed the "safety test" and that there were positive results. "I hope they use it, because I'll tell you what, what do you have to lose?" he asked. "I may take it. I'll have to ask my doctors about that."

For his medical and pharmaceutical knowledge, Giuliani has consulted a controversial Long Island family doctor with a conservative following and a former pharmacist who previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to extort actor Steven Seagal. 

"Got lots of positive reports on hydroxy and Zithromax," he tweeted on March 26. Giuliani wrote 14 posts in the past three weeks that referred to hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin.

"The hydroxy treatment, first introduced by POTUS, appears to be working so far!" he tweeted on March 28. He also tweeted that the "demented left" wished to ban the use of the anti-malaria cocktail. 

Twitter locked his account until he deleted a message that said the treatment had been "100 percent effective" in treating COVID-19. Yet, Giuliani doesn't think he knew of that happening.

He claims there's no money in this for him. While his podcast is about making money, and while he formerly represented Pfizer and Purdue, he claims he last worked for them a decade ago. "I'm not trying to get a dime out of this," he insisted. 

There have been some doctors who noted the drugs appeared to help some coronavirus patients, but it's still unproven in clinical trials as far as its effectiveness.

White House infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci has repeatedly insisted caution should be used when touting these drugs until more research has been done.  

While Giuliani says he hasn't discussed it with him, he also said he agrees with him: "I'm sure he thinks I am an ignoramus," he said.

"They've thrown cold water on it because they are academics," he said of scientists. " 'You can't blind test it.' I know you can't blind test it. But we've got thousands of people dying, sweetheart. And by the time you blind test it, we'll have 100,000 people who are dead. Why don't we get in the real world of being a doctor instead of being an academic?" 

"We've got to take a little risk, goddamnit, if we want to save lives," Giuliani insisted. "We are looking at a slaughter." He does recognize the anti-malaria drug has side effects, but even if it is "marginally" helpful, he believes it should still be in use.

"You should be listening to credible scientists, ideally physicians and researchers who approach this issue with respect for the scientific method. Rudy Giuliani is the opposite of that kind of person," said internist David Juurlink, the head of the division of clinical pharmacology at the University of Toronto.  

He said some of Giuliani's "statements are dangerous and are not to be believed."

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