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Pence says he isn't taking hydroxychloroquine, one day after President Trump revealed he's using the drug

Trump says he's taking unproven drug

Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday that he is not taking hydroxychloroquine, the disputed drug that President Trump has touted for the coronavirus pandemic. The vice president's comments came a day after Mr. Trump revealed that he's been taking hydroxychloroquine, despite warnings about the drug from the federal government. 

Asked in a Fox News interview if he was taking the drug, Pence said, "I'm not. But I would never begrudge any American taking the advice of their physician." 

"My physician has not recommended that, but I wouldn't hesitate to take the counsel of my doctor," he said. "Any American should do likewise." 

Pence added that he'd "heard anecdotal stories of Americans who've taken hydroxychloroquine in the midst of the coronavirus, and sense that it made a real difference for them."

Pence's press secretary, Katie Miller, who is married to White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month. So did a valet for Mr. Trump. The president and vice president are both tested regularly for the virus, and have tested negative. 

Mr. Trump told reporters Monday that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine "every day," along with zinc, for about two weeks as a preventative measure against coronavirus. White House doctor Sean P. Conley later issued a statement saying the two of them discussed the drug and decided "the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks."

While Mr. Trump has been dismissive of the possible risks — repeatedly saying, "What do you have to lose?" — the FDA warns about potentially serious side effects, with some patients suffering heart rhythm problems. The largest study to date of the drug's use for coronavirus showed that it had no benefit for patients, and that there were actually more deaths in patients who took it. 

The president further defended his use of the drug Tuesday, saying Americans "are going to have to make up their own mind" about it. "This is an individual decision to make," he told reporters. "But it's had a great reputation, and if it was somebody else other than me, people would say, 'Gee, isn't that smart?'"

Trump taking unproven drug to prevent COVID-19

Mr. Trump's announcement sparked concern from an array of medical experts and some politicians, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said the president shouldn't be using an unproven drug especially given "his age group and in his, shall we say, weight group, morbidly obese."

Hydroxychloroquine has been used for decades as a treatment for malaria, and is also prescribed for some patients with lupus. In the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Trump promoted it as a potential "game changer" for the virus. So far, clinical trials have failed to back that up, but additional studies are still underway.

The FDA in April issued a caution against widespread use of hydroxychloroquine outside of a closely-monitored hospital setting or clinical trial, reporting that some patients who used it showed "serious heart rhythm problems." 

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