Check with seller Donald Trump experimental drug scientist in shock Almira

Published date: May 1, 2020
  • Location: Almira, Washington, United States

Veterans advocates say they are frustrated at the lack of transparency around the Department of Veterans Affairs' use of the unproven drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus.

After the release of a preliminary study of veterans hospitalized with COVID-19 last week that showed that hydroxychloroquine — an anti-malaria drug touted by President Donald Trump — had no benefit and caused a greater rate of deaths, the groups want answers and are worried that they may have been misled by the agency on its recent purchase of the drug.


Jeremy Butler, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said that the results of the study were "incredibly troubling for a number of reasons" and that the VA needed to provide answers.

It is not just advocacy groups that are upset that veterans were used in a study for a drug that has only anecdotal support within the medical community, which Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has warned could be a false hope.

Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, said that while the results may be preliminary, he found the data released by the VA to be concerning, saying it showed that it "may be premature to treat veterans" with the drug, "particularly in light of NIH recommending these drugs not be used." NIH is the National Institutes of Health.

"I'm not convinced we're ready for widespread off-label use of hydroxychloroquine at VA — especially when the administration hasn't done enough research on its safety and efficacy for treating COVID-19," he added. "When it comes to treating our veterans, we must rely on expert opinion and the proven science that leads to consistent guidance across the country."

Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona, an Iraq War veteran who is Democratic member of Takano's committee, went further, saying he was outraged that the VA appeared to turn veterans into experimental subjects to support an unproven treatment touted by the president.

"I think the most important thing is we need to keep veterans safe, not necessarily being test labs for the president to score political points," Gallego said.

As the pandemic has spread across the U.S., veterans service organizations have said numerous times that the country's second-largest government agency, charged with caring for the nation's veterans population, has remained tight-lipped in its response to the spread of the coronavirus.

Many say they are concerned about reports that some veterans hospitals across the country have run short of personal protective equipment, even as the VA continues to say it has enough in stock.

The lack of specificity and media availability by the department's leadership has some concerned.

"The largest health care provider in the country and the backstop for the civilian health care system isn't out front being heard from and having questions asked of it on a daily basis," Butler said. "From the basic standpoint of a democratic society facing one of the largest health crises in a century, that seems incorrect and inappropriate."

CORRECTION (April 26, 2020, 7 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misspelled the first name of the communications director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He is Terrence Hayes, not Terrance.

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