Malaria Drug Trump is Taking Could Kill

Amid all the anxiety over a possible treatment for COVID-19 comes controversy over whether it could harm the world's most famous recipient.

A new study in the medical journal The Lancet shows hospitalized COVID patients treated with hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug President Donald Trump says he’s taking to prevent the virus, had a higher risk of death compared to those who didn’t take it.

Patients who took the drug chloroquine, from which hydroxychloroquine is derived, were also more likely to develop irregular heart rhythms, according to the study, which looked at more than 96,000 patients from 671 hospitals across six continents.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and other institutions looked at 96,032 patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19 between Dec. 20 and April 14. They said 14,888 patients were treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, either alone or in combination with a macrolide. The remaining 81,144 patients were in the control group.

Nearly 10,700 patients died in the hospital during the time period. The study found that after controlling for multiple factors, including age, race, sex and underlying health conditions, there was a 34% increase in risk of mortality for patients who took hydroxychloroquine and a 137% increased risk of serious heart arrhythmias.

The new findings come days after Trump said he has been taking hydroxychloroquine daily for over a week to prevent infection from the coronavirus despite warnings from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

White House physician Dr. Sean Conley released a memo Monday evening, which said that after discussing evidence for and against hydroxychloroquine with Trump, they concluded "the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks."