A recent analysis found that interest in purchasing hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine — two medications used to treat and prevent malaria — skyrocketed after President Trump publicly touted and embraced the drugs as treatments for COVID-19.
WEDNESDAY, April 29, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- When the President of the United States offers medical advice, many Americans will heed the call. Never mind that the recommendations may be unfounded and potentially dangerous.
That's the cautionary finding of an analysis published April 29 in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Researchers examined Google search patterns following President Donald Trump's public embrace of the malaria medications hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as treatments for COVID-19.
"We monitored all Google searches indicative of shopping for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in the U.S. between February 1 and March 29," explained study lead author Michael Liu, a masters candidate in social policy and intervention at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.
The team then split the search time frame into two parts. The first ran up until March 16. That's the date that billionaire Elon Musk -- CEO of the electric car company Tesla, Inc. -- first took to Twitter to endorse another malaria drug, chloroquine, as another unproven treatment for COVID-19.
The second time period ran from March 16 onwards. It covers Musk's endorsement, Trump's first televised endorsement of hydroxychloroquine on March 19, and also news reports of fatal poisonings stemming from off-label use of such drugs.
The team saw interest in purchasing both drugs skyrocket after both endorsements, but most notably after Trump's.