A doctor at The Resort at Texas City, a nursing home in Texas City, reportedly distributed the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to many of the elderly patients diagnosed with COVID-19. The drug, which has not been officially approved for the treatment of the coronavirus, is being used by the physician and he is tracking the outcomes in what he’s calling an “observational study.”
The drug has been mentioned several times by President Donald Trump as a game-changer, yet, the nation’s leading health experts don’t yet agree with the assessment Trump has levied about the drug in its fight against COVID-19. As reported by NPR, “Some of the nation’s most respected health officials have said there is insufficient evidence showing that the 80-year-old drug, which is typically used to stave off malaria or treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, is a viable treatment in battling the new virus.” In addition, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19.
Robin Armstrong, a physician and the medical director of the nursing home, has made the controversial decision to administer hydroxychloroquine last week. “It’s actually going well. People are getting better,” Armstrong told NPR, stating that after just a couple of days, some of the 39 patients on the medication are showing signs of improvement.
Scientists and health officials are concerned about the drug as it is known to have serious negative health impacts. “To be clear, no one is worse than when they started,” Armstrong said emphatically. “From my perspective, it’s irresponsible to sit back and do nothing. The alternative would have been much much worse.”
People are also concerned about the political connections Armstrong had in getting the drugs. Armstrong called Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and he reached out to Texas state Sen. Bryan Hughes, also a Republican, who knew someone on the board of the New Jersey-based company Amneal Pharmaceuticals. The company, which makes and distributes the drug, has donated more than a million tablets nationwide, including to the states of Texas and Louisiana.
Armstrong has also acknowledged that some of the families were not aware their relatives were being given the drug, saying that “for the most part,” he consulted with each nursing home resident prior to giving them the tablets.