Does Donald Trump have a stake in hydroxychloroquine?

19 May 2020, 14:11

By Fiona Jones

Does Donald Trump have a stake in hydroxychloroquine? LBC investigates after concerns have been raised about the President's motives for touting a drug unproven to treat coronavirus.

The President of the United States announced he is the taking unproven malaria and lupus drug hydroxychloroquine to ward off coronavirus.

Speaking at the White House, he said, "I'm taking it for about a week and a half now and I'm still here, I'm still here.”

As hydroxychloroquine has not been clinically proven to treat Covid-19, although preliminary trials say it is a possibility, it has led some to question why Donald Trump is pushing for its use to as a pandemic treatment.

Does Donald Trump have a stake in hydroxychloroquine?

Technically yes, he does have a tiny financial stake in a French company, Sanofi, that manufactures hydroxychloroquine.

However his stake in the company is so small, estimated at $1,500, that any implication he would stand to profit from promoting the drug is misleading.

US fact-checker Politifact collated:

The New York Times reported that Mr Trump has a financial interest in Sanofi through a mutual fund from a firm called Dodge & Cox. Sanofi is the largest holding in the firm’s International Stock Fund at 3.3%.

Additionally, The Washington Post verified that “the value of each of those holdings is between $1,001 and $15,000, which would put Trump’s stake in Sanofi at between about $100 and $1,500 in total.”

"That Sanofi investment would therefore constitute between 0.000003 and 0.00005 percent of Trump’s net worth," the Post wrote, "If you were worth $100,000, it would be like worrying about the nickel in your pocket."

Donald Trump said he is taking hydroxychloroquine despite not having Coronavirus
Donald Trump said he is taking hydroxychloroquine despite not having Coronavirus. Picture: PA

In the White House press conference when he announced he was taking the drug, the President also said own doctor had not recommended the drug, but that he had requested it from the White House doctor.

The White House physician's memorandum on hydroxychloroquine read:

"As has been previously reported, two weeks ago one of the President's support staff tested positive for COVID-19.
The President is in very good health and remains symptom-free. He receives regular COVID-19 testing, all negative to date.

"After numerous discussions he and I had regarding the evidence for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine, we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.

"In consultation with our inter-agency partners and subject matter experts around the country, I continue to monitor the myriad studies investigating potential COVID-19 therapies, and I anticipate employing the same shared medical decision making based on the evidence at hand in the future."

The White House physician's note on hydroxychloroquine
The White House physician's note on hydroxychloroquine. Picture: White House

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN: “He's our president and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists.

“Especially in his age group and in his, shall we say, weight group, what is morbidly obese, they say. So, I think that it's not a good idea.”

Last week the FDA cautioned against using the drug outside of a hospital setting or a clinical trial, warning it can cause "serious heart rhythm problems" in patients who are also suffering with the virus.