FILE- This May 2, 2017, file photo, shows the corporate signage on the headquarters building of The New York Times in New York. The New York Times Co. reports earnings Thursday, May 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)
French pharmaceutical company Sanofi manufactures Plaquenil, the brand-name version of the well-known anti-viral drug hydroxychloroquine, which President Trump, among many others, has touted for use with COVID-19 patients.
The left has seized upon Trump’s enthusiastic “promotion” of this drug as a treatment for the coronavirus. On Monday, the New York Times published a piece in which they argue the President is irresponsible to be pushing a drug for which no “conclusive scientific studies” have been conducted. It is true that no conclusive studies are available yet. However, the accounts from patients who have seen marked improvement after taking hydroxychloroquine and from doctors who’ve prescribed it, have been piling up quickly.
Always on the lookout to find something with which to discredit the President, the Times’ writers snuck this into their article:
If hydroxychloroquine becomes an accepted treatment, several pharmaceutical companies stand to profit, including shareholders and senior executives with connections to the President. Mr. Trump himself has a small personal financial interest in Sanofi, the French drugmaker that makes Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine.
NEW: If hydroxychloroquine becomes an accepted coronavirus treatment, several companies stand to profit, some with shareholders & execs connected to TRUMP.
— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) April 7, 2020
Even for the New York Times, this is a stretch and Twitchy’s Greg P. has unearthed two strong reasons why.
And one of them comes to us courtesy of fierce Trump critic George Conway, husband of Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway.
George Conway posts a tweet from another Twitter user which says, “As of last year, Mr. Trump reported that his three family trusts each had investments in a Dodge & Cox mutual fund, whose largest holding was in Sanofi…Jesus, that’s beyond a stretch. Like Trump actually knows the individual equities in his mutual funds.”
Conway’s caption says, “Yep. And can’t imagine Sanofi could make that much on a drug that’s not patented.”
So, we learn:
- Since Sanofi’s patent on Plaquenil has expired, and the drug is being produced by several other companies, Sanofi’s profits on sales of Plaquenil are not substantial.
- The extent of Trump’s “financial interest” in Sanofi is that he owns shares in a mutual fund that has bought shares of Sanofi. Even Trump’s critics find this to be a stretch. In fact, Walter Schaub writes, “If Trump were a regular executive branch employee covered by the conflict of interest law, the remedy for a conflict of interest would be to buy diversified mutual funds because they’re exempt from the law.”
Finally, this drug has been around since the end of World War II. Its side effects are known. On March 19, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were “designated for “expanded access” or “compassionate use” by the FDA.”
According to FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, compassionate use “means doctors can ask to use the experimental drug on patients and the FDA can then gather data on its safety and efficacy.”
A recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal discussed the experience of two physicians from the University of Kansas Medical Center, Drs. Jeff Colyer and Daniel Hinthorn, who have been prescribing the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin to their COVID-19 patients. According to the op-ed:
The most important point the doctors make is that we don’t have the luxury of time. There are currently larger studies being conducted, but the results won’t be available for weeks. They explain, “We have a drug with an excellent safety profile but limited clinical outcomes—and no better alternatives until long after this disaster peaks. We can use this treatment to help save lives and prevent others from becoming infected. Or we can wait several weeks and risk discovering we didn’t do everything we could to end this pandemic as quickly as possible.” It will also help contain the spread of the disease.
Yep. And can’t imagine Sanofi could make that much on a drug that’s not patented. https://t.co/6EYEnQdveC
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) April 7, 2020
Don't get excited about this finding. If Trump were a regular executive branch employee covered by the conflict of interest law, the remedy for a conflict of interest would be to buy diversified mutual funds because they're exempt from the law. That's the asset this refers to. https://t.co/dD8SCBbZka
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) April 7, 2020
The reporting is good, it just needs this crucial context. There's nothing wrong with this financial interest. Everyone talks about blind trusts, but what we should wish he owned instead of a blind trust is exactly these kinds of diversified mutual funds. Sadly, he doesn't care.
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) April 7, 2020