Chuck Schumer has asked the Department of Veterans Affairs for an explanation of the use of the ‘risky’ and unproven hydroxychloroquine drug in veterans infected with coronavirus.
The top Senate Democrat said on Sunday that the VA should provide Congress with details on the recent bulk order of $ 208,000 from the antimalarial drug and whether the White House has pressured the department to use it.
“If vets receive this risky drug, families in New York – and all families – have the right to know what’s going on and what’s in the future.” Schumer said.
President Donald Trump and VA Secretary Robert Wilkie discussed the drug’s potential to fight COVID-19 without citing published evidence.
Chuck Schumer said the VA should provide Congress with more information on a recent bulk order for $ 208,000 in hydroxychloroquine
The VA recently said that most of its recent bulk order for hydroxychloroquine was used for approved uses, such as the treatment of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, but it did not cause any disruptions
Schumer’s request comes after a whistleblower complaint filed last week by former Bright and Human Services official Rick Bright alleged that the Trump administration, eager to find a quick solution to the corona virus attack, hotspots in New York and New York wanted to “flood”. Jersey with the drug.
Large veteran organizations have urged VA to explain the circumstances under which VA physicians initiate discussion of hydroxychloroquine with veterans as a treatment option.
“There is concern that they are taking this drug if medical evidence shows it doesn’t help and can hurt,” Schumer said in an interview with The Associated Press.
He said that given that the malaria drug, despite being untested, has been repeatedly publicly reported by Trump, VA Sec. Wilkie has to say whether someone in the department has been pressured by the White House or the administration to use hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19.
Schumer said Wilkie should also answer questions about a recent analysis of VA hospital data showing that there were more deaths among patients receiving hydroxychloroquine versus standard care, including how many patients knew about the risks of the drug before using it.
In a statement Sunday, VA spokeswoman Christina Noel called it “ridiculous” for anyone to suggest that VA would make treatment decisions based on something other than “patients’ best medical interests.”
“VA only allows the use of the drug after veterans and caregivers are aware of the potential risks associated with it, as we do with any other drug or treatment,” she said.
Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, or the Bedford VA Hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts, which has treated COVID-19 patients
President Donald Trump has strongly promoted the malaria drug without evidence as a treatment for COVID-19
In recent weeks, Wilkie has denied that veterans were used as test subjects for the drug and that it was instead administered only in government-administered VA hospitals when medically appropriate, with mutual consent between physician and patient.
Still, Wilkie and the department have repeatedly declined to say how often the drug was used for COVID-19, including how many veterans received the drug and whether VA doctors were advised by VA headquarters on specific scenarios when it should be used.
In a weekly appeal to veteran groups last week, Wilkie continued to defend VA’s use of hydroxychloroquine.
He rejected the recent analysis of VA hospital data that showed no benefit to patients, suggesting the poor results were because the cases involved older, very ill veterans.
“The use of this drug for the treatment of COVID-19 is considered” off-label “- completely legal and not rare,” he wrote in a April 29 letter to groups of veterans.
The analysis of hospital data, performed by independent researchers from two universities with VA approval, was not a rigorous experiment. Researchers analyzed medical records of 368 elderly hospital male veterans with confirmed coronavirus infection in VA medical centers who died or were discharged on April 11.
About 28% of the veterans who received hydroxychloroquine plus usual care died, compared to 11% of those who received only routine care.
The VA recently said that most of its recent bulk order for hydroxychloroquine was used for approved uses, such as the treatment of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, but it did not cause any disruptions.
In recent weeks, Wilkie has increased the drug’s advocacy even further than Trump by claiming without evidence that it has been effective for young and middle-aged veterans in particular. In fact, there is no published evidence to support this.
Senate Prime Minister Democrat Chuck Schumer donned a face mask last week at the start of a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington
Veterans are “deeply concerned that we still have no clarity about the past and current use of hydroxychloroquine by the VA in treating veterans with COVID-19,” said Jeremy Butler, chief executive officer of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, to the AP.
“Now that the federal government has issued an emergency use authorization for remdesivir to treat COVID-19, we need answers to these questions, as well as the VA’s plans for whether or not to administer brake desivir,” he said.
That action by the Food and Drug Administration came after preliminary results from a government-sponsored study that showed that remdesivir reduced recovery time by 31%, or about four days on average, for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
In a tweet on Sunday, former VA secretary David Shulkin urged the department to immediately limit the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19.
“Because studies are of no benefit, VA should limit use only to clinical studies,” he wrote. Shulkin was fired by Trump in March 2018, and Wilkie replaced him.
Schumer said his primary concern is to determine whether the VA has conducted “clandestine studies to determine whether hydroxychloroquine was effective without their consent.” He also said there are concerns that the department will not specifically address where the drug was sent.
“These are people who risked their lives for us,” said Schumer. “They should only be treated with the utmost dignity, respect and high standards of care.”
The drug has long been used to treat malaria and other conditions. A few very small preliminary studies suggested that it could help prevent the coronavirus from entering the cells and possibly help patients clear the virus earlier.
But the FDA last month warned doctors against prescribing the drug for COVID-19 outside of hospitals because of the risks of serious side effects and death.