Trump's Trade Adviser Says Administration Sitting on Millions of Hydroxychloroquine Doses

The White House Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro said the administration is "sitting on millions of doses" of hydroxychloroquine, the controversial anti-malaria drug President Donald Trump claims to treat COVID-19.

Navarro claimed in an interview on CNN's New Day on Wednesday that half of Americans who died from coronavirus yesterday would still be alive if treated with the drug.

The disputed effectiveness of the drug has divided the Trump administration and health experts, many of whom have cautioned against the use of the drug, saying it is not effective in treating the virus.

"We're in the middle of a pandemic where over 1,000 Americans died today. 1,000 Americans died yesterday. And if you have a medicine that there's relatively little or no downside risk and possible upside; why would you not let the American people have it?" Navarro told reporters on Wednesday.

"Right now the American people really can't have it because I can't ship it to distributors or hospitals, because the FDA doesn't allow it to off label use, and almost half the states have strict regulators, who won't allow doctors to prescribe," he added.

Navarro cited a new study that has emerged from the Henry Ford Medical Center, which suggested hydorxychloroquine could help patients who were mildly ill with coronavirus to recover faster.

Health experts were quick to point out that the patients in the study were not randomized and that patients were twice as likely to be given steroids as a placebo, which have been proven in trials to help.

On June 15, the FDA revoked the emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 after clinical trials found the drug to be ineffective at "decreasing the likelihood of death or speeding recovery." Director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci has also publicly opposed the use of the drug, clashing with Trump and Navarro.

Since the beginning of the administration's pandemic response, Navarro has disagreed with the doctor, undermining Facui's concerns about hydroxychloroquine and penning an op-ed titled "Anthony Fauci has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on."

Peter Navarro
White House Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro speaks to reporters outside the White House in Washington, D.C. on June 18, 2020. Navarro said on Wednesday that the administration has millions of hydroxychloroquine doses. Getty/Alex Wong

The president has touted hydroxycholoroquine as being "extremely successful." In the early days of the pandemic, Trump said he was taking the drug as a preventative measure.

Fauci's approval rating among the public when it comes to coronavirus information is significantly higher than that of Trump's.

On Tuesday, Trump acknowledged Fauci's high approval to reporters and asked, "Why don't I have a high approval rating with respect — and the administration — with respect to the virus?"

The administration announced its $765 million loan to the Eastman Kodak Company that same day. Navarro praised the loan on Tuesday. The federal funds are being used to increase domestic manufacturing of drugs, including hydroxycholoroquine.

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment but did not hear back before publication.