Trump Says He's Taking Unproven Hydroxychloroquine Despite FDA Warning of Serious Side Effects

President Donald Trump's claims on cures for the coronavirus have been slammed as dangerous by health experts

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at the White House during a coronavirus task force briefing on April 23.

President Donald Trump raised immediate concerns on Monday when he told reporters he's been taking hydroxychloroquine to protect himself from contracting the coronavirus despite research that shows the anti-malarial drug has proved ineffective and is linked to a higher death rate.

"I happen to be taking it. I happen to be taking it -- hydroxychloroquine," Trump, 73, said, telling reporters he started taking the unproven drug "a couple of weeks ago."

"And if it is not good, I will tell you right. I'm not going to get hurt by it. It has been around for 40 years for malaria, for lupus, for other things. I take it," he shared, adding that he has had "zero symptoms" and he has been taking the pill "every day."

The president said that he asked the White House physician about the drug and said he would like to take it. When asked about the evidence of the drug actually working, Trump said, "Here we go. Are you ready? Here's my evidence. I get a lot of positive calls about it. The only negative I heard -- was at the VA? People that aren't big Trump fans."

Trump added, "Yeah, I've taken it for 1 and a half weeks now. And I'm still here. I'm still here."

The White House did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Trump has promoted the anti-malarial drug as a cure for the coronavirus, while health experts, including the head of the Food and Drug Administration, rushed to warn that the drug needs to undergo trials to see if it would work against the coronavirus and could potentially be dangerous.

Early research indicates the drug has poor results in protecting against COVID-19 and a recent Veterans Affairs study found that patients who took the drug died at a higher rate than those who did not. More research into the drug is still needed but their results indicate that hydroxychloroquine is not an effective treatment and should not be used on COVID-19 patients, said the study's authors.

“An association of increased overall mortality was identified in patients treated with hydroxychloroquine alone,” the authors wrote. “These findings highlight the importance of awaiting the results of ongoing prospective, randomized, controlled studies before widespread adoption of these drugs.”

President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump at the White House on May 13. Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock

While downplaying the impact of the coronavirus and congratulating his administration's response to the pandemic, Trump has been criticized by health experts for promoting untested and unfounded cures for the coronavirus over the last two months.

In April, Trump suggested federal health officials should research whether injecting disinfectants and heat into the human body could kill the virus.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the Trump administration's coronavirus task force coordinator, told the president in front of reporters that she hasn't heard of those methods being used "as a treatment" for the virus.

When reporters suggested to Trump that his public musings on a cure for the coronavirus could be dangerous, Trump became defensive. "I’m just here to present talent," he said. "I’m just here to present ideas because we want ideas to get rid of this thing.”

The president's revelation that he's taking hydroxychloroquine shocked reporters, who immediately questioned the president to confirm he's taking the drug.

Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto expressed his shock immediately after Trump's announcement, citing the VA study that shows an increase in mortality rates among those who took the drug.

"If you are in a risky population here and you are taking this as a preventative treatment to ward off the virus or in a worst-case scenario you are dealing with the virus and you are in this vulnerable population, it will kill you," the Fox News anchor told viewers. "I cannot stress enough. This will kill you."

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