Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson - Hydroxychloroquine and Remdesivir

Science and Medicine - Politics and Money - Hydroxychloroquine and Remdesivir.

Image
Tablets of hydroxychloroquine
Tablets of hydroxychloroquine
(Gerard Julien / Getty Images)
Updated: May 17, 2020 - 3:26pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Sharyl Attkisson's latest Full Measure episode reports on politics, money, and medicine colliding with the COVID-19 crisis.

Attkisson interviews three accomplished medical experts who are calling for the politicization of COVID-19 to come to a screeching halt because it is dangerous, scaring patients, and costing lives and the financial conflicts of interests must be further examined.

They also note that the media is not helping the situation.

Dr. Stephen Hatfield, a biomedical scientist who worked on Ebola asks, "Why are the press running medicine in the United States? This is not right." 

Full Measure interviewed these medical experts who say they are witnessing much harm being done not only by the media, but also by those within their own profession, who negatively compare hydroxychloroquine - which has been around for 70 years, and is cheap to manufacture - and Gilead's remdesivir, a new drug that is not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

As reported by Full Measure, President Trump mentioned hydroxychloroquine for promising results, and subsequently, a Department of Veterans' Affairs report was published online in mid-April criticizing hydroxychloroquine and claiming deaths. 

Attkisson reports that one of the authors of that Veteran's hydroxychloroqine report received a $247,000 grant from Gilead in 2018. 

"I've never seen science politicized in 40 years of practice," says, Dr. William O'Neill, a cardiologist and Medical Director at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan, where clinical trials are being conducting with both hydroxychloroquine and remdesivir on COVID-19 patients. 

Dr. O'Neill says some in the field believe there is some value with hydroxychloroquine and agrees the drug has to be tested, but wants everyone to "hold their powders," and eventually there will be more clarity on what treatment works. 

To those patients prescribed hydroxychloroquine, Dr. O'Neill claims, "I have seen no single side effect of harm." Dr. O'Neill tells Full Measure that he has found value and improvement in all of the patients.

He is studying hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 preventative drug and has tested it on 400 patients.

Remdesivir was developed for those inflicted with Ebola. When tested on COVID-19 patients, the early tests did not conclude survivability - only that the patients spent four fewer days recovering in the hospital.

Dr. O'Neill says that he is less impressed with remdesivir, "There is a lot of hype for the drug," and from his observation there is "no big benefit" to remdesivir even after reading medical journal reports on it.  

On May 1, the FDA approved remdesivir for emergency use only on severe COVID-19 patients, and said it must be administered only in hospitals while raising caution on hydroxychloroquine and suggesting it only should be taken in a formal study. 

“Because of this fake news and fake science true scientific efforts are being harmed,” says Dr. O'Neill.  

Dr. Hatfiled told Attkisson there is a campaign against hydroxychloroquine, and "lives were lost" because of it.

Dr. Jane Orient, Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), told Full Measure that those who support remdesivir may have some "conflicts of interests," and that the financial ties must be examined. 

"I think you have to look at the money, says Dr. Orient, "There is no big money in hydroxychloroquine."

When Full Measure cross-referenced those on the U.S. COVID-19 Advisory Board with links to drug companies, they found 11 members. Of those 11, nine members were linked to Gilead.

Upon further examination, Full Measure found seven more members with links to Gilead in the past, including two in leadership,  Dr. Roy M. Gulick and Dr. Henry Masur. 

Just the News Spotlight