WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump said Monday he is taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that he's repeatedly touted as a treatment for coronavirus, despite warnings about its effectiveness.
"I happen to be taking it," Trump said during a roundtable discussion with restaurant executives at the White House. "I hope to not be able to take it soon, you know, because I hope that they come up with some answer. But I think people should be allowed to."
The Food and Drug Administration has cautioned against the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for COVID-19 treatment outside of hospitals or clinical trials due to the risk of heart rhythm problems.
"Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19," the FDA warned. Both can cause abnormal heart rhythms and a dangerously rapid heart rate, the statement said.
Trump, who said he has been taking the drug daily for about a week and a half, said that the White House physician "didn't recommend" the treatment but offered it to him.
Two recent observational studies of coronavirus patients suggested the drug has little impact in treating the disease. The studies, while not the same as a clinical trial, suggested that the drug did not significantly reduce complications from the virus or death.
Trump told reporters along with taking the drug, he is being tested for COVID-19 every couple of days but so far has tested negative.
The president had touted the drug for weeks, frequently discussing anecdotal evidence of its impact from the podium during daily White House briefings. His administration stockpiled 29 million doses of the drug earlier in the pandemic.
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When asked why he's taking it, the president said he's "heard a lot of good stories."
"And if it's not good...I'm not going to get hurt by it. It's been around for 40 years," he added.
Hydroxychloroquine is FDA-approved to treat or prevent malaria as well as autoimmune conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
The FDA has explicitly warned consumers not to buy the drug from online pharmacies without a prescription from a health care professional.
Doctors, including director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci, have said it's impossible to know if hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine - another drug the president has pushed - is effective or safe to treat COVID-19.
Several clinical trials to test the drugs on COVID-19 patients are underway.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus: Trump says he's taking hydroxychloroquine