Front line physicians treating patients with SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 are seeing an unprecedented, alarming, and escalating orchestrated attack on chloroquine (CQ) and its safer derivative, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). Both medicines have been safely used in millions of patients worldwide for malaria prevention and treatment since they were FDA approved for safety and effectiveness in 1934 and 1955, respectively. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists CQ and HCQ as “essential medicines” because of safety, effectiveness, low cost, and wide availability. 

The United States CDC itself has published guidelines on its website: “Who can take hydroxychloroquine (Placquenil)? Hydroxychloroquine can be prescribed to adults and children of all ages. It can also be safely taken by pregnant women and nursing mothers.”

The CDC Guidelines address side effects: Hydroxychloroquine is a relatively well tolerated medicine. The most common adverse reactions reported are stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and headache. These side effects can often be lessened by taking hydroxychloroquine with food. Hydroxychloroquine may also cause itching in some people. All medicines may have some side effects. Minor side effects such as nausea, occasional vomiting, or diarrhea usually do not require stopping the antimalarial drug.”

CDC addresses duration of use: “How long is it safe to use hydroxychloroquine? CDC has no limits on the use of hydroxychloroquine for the prevention of malaria. When hydroxychloroquine is used at higher doses for many years, a rare eye condition called retinopathy has occurred. People who take hydroxychloroquine for more than five years should get regular eye exams. 

NOTICE: The CDC guidelines for use in malaria do not even mention the “fatal heart arrhythmia” hyped in the fear-mongering articles in the media recently. Rheumatology guidelines for using HCQ for Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) patients do not require a baseline EKG to check heart rhythm, though doctors might order one before using these medicines if needed for a patient with heart disease.

So our own CDC has said CQ and HCQ are safe and well tolerated for potentially long periods of time preventing and treating malaria. FDA later approved HCQ for treating Lupus and RA, with millions taking much higher doses over decades, not days.

Successful treatment protocols worldwide describe low dose, short duration (5-7 days) treatment early in COVID-19 to help reduce severity, rate of spread and need for hospitalization. Why the firestorm against HCQ? It simply makes no medical sense. 

We DO have data from 2002 showing HCQ has potent antiviral action early in the illness of SARS-CoV. Yet CDC, FDA, and Dr. Fauci seem either ignorant of these early peer-reviewed studies, or are willfully ignoring them. 

Either way, Dr. Fauci, The FDA and CDC failure to allow, and even encourage, physicians to offer HCQ as an option to COVID-19 patients early in the disease is causing serious harm to Americans in higher US death rates compared to countries using HCQ at the onset of infection. And the US has higher complication rates, longer hospitalizations, and devastating economic damage from the prolonged shutdown. 

We know that Dr. Fauci, the FDA and CDA have up to the minute, country by country data on number of cases, number of deaths, and number of deaths per million in population. Look at a few examples as of April 27, 2020. Then draw your own conclusions:

Country # of Cases   # of Deaths  Deaths/1 million     Early vs Late use of HCQ

India             27,890          881                0.6                  Early, and prophylactic use

Costa Rica      695                6                   1.0                 Early, and prophylactic use

Australia        6,716             83                  3.0                Early, and prophylactic use

So. Korea     10,728           242                 5.0                 Early, and prophylactic use

Brazil            62,859          4,271             20.0                Early, and prophylactic use

Israel            15,443            201               23.0                 Early, some prophylactic use

USA              987,160        55,413            167.0              Late, in hospitalized patients

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or an MD or PhD degree to see the stark difference. U.S. politicians and entrenched bureaucrats dangerous interference in the physician-patient relationship are responsible for our higher death rates by preventing doctors from doing their jobs for patients early in the disease when the drug is most effective.

Doctors want to help patients, and save lives. They do not want their hands tied by politicians. Doctors and nurses simply want the option of taking HCQ to help keep from getting sick so they can continue to treat patients. 

Why are our doctors and nurses being denied prophylactic treatment readily available and protecting healthcare workers in other countries, and even threatened with loss of their medical license if they prescribe it?

Patients with common sense, who can easily find out information about HCQ, are pleading for the opportunity to work with their physician they trust and be able to try an FDA-approved medicine in this new crisis. 

Our FDA, CDC, Governors and State Medical Boards are making it appear that “off-label” prescriptions for HCQ in COVID-19 is illegal or fraudulent. Off-label simply means a new disease use different from the one originally approved.

Why is the FDA now over-ruling its own long standing regulations that allow doctors to legally prescribe any approved medicine for a new use?

Physicians have used approved medications off-label since the FDA was formed under Democrat President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the time of World War II. Until this COVID-19 crisis, there has never been an outcry about doctors using old medicines for new uses. This freedom has allowed more rapid discovery of life-saving treatments. For example: 

  • Amitriptyline (Elavil®), first approved for depression, is now used for nerve pain.
  • Trazodone, approved for depression, is widely used at lower doses for sleep.     
  • Sildenafil (Viagra®), approved for erectile dysfunction, is also used to treat pulmonary artery hypertension. 

Dr. Fauci has failed to report any of the many positive basic science and successful clinical outcomes results from the United States and more than a dozen other countries. Why? Surely he knows the data. Why does he continue to dismiss them? He must know the clearly lower death rates in other countries using HCQ early in COVID-19.

Dr. Fauci is on record saying that we need to wait for a vaccine to safely re-open the country, yet he better than anyone knows the safety issues of vaccines rushed to market without adequate testing, and he knows they take months to years. 

Political brinkmanship and hidden agendas⏤political, financial or both⏤are a dangerous and deadly game. It is time for doctors, nurses, and citizens to fight back with massive public pressure on state officials and legal actions against agencies working against the public interest.

HCQ is not a panacea, but it IS saving lives around the world⏤in countries with less sophisticated medical infrastructure and capability than we have in America.

We don’t have time to waste. People are dying. Our economy is dying.

Image: Reuters