US President Donald Trump reportedly owns a stake in a company that produces hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug he has repeatedly touted as a coronavirus treatment even though his experts say there’s no strong evidence it works.
Trump “has a small personal financial interest” in Sanofi, the French drugmaker that makes Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine, The New York Times reported Monday.
In addition, Sanofi’s largest shareholders include a mutual fund company run by major Republican donor Ken Fisher, the paper said. Trump’s three family trusts, as of last year, each had investments in a mutual fund whose largest holding was Sanofi, according to the Times. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also had ties to the drugmaker, the Times reported.
Trump’s “assertiveness” in promoting the drug contrary to the recommendation of top health experts “has raised questions about his motives,” the Times noted.
The financial news site MarketWatch and The Washington Post later estimated Trump’s stake to be worth between about $100 and $1,500, though the Post noted his trusts may have amassed other investments since his most recent disclosure. “He does look to have more than that modest sum invested in Sanofi, because, unmentioned in the Times report, his trusts also hold broader European stock-market index funds,” MarketWatch pointed out.
A chorus of Trump supporters with no medical expertise have backed the president’s urging of doctors to treat COVID-19 patients with the drug, including his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and Fox News host Sean Hannity.
In the face of warnings from top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci that the drug’s safety and effectiveness are uncertain in treating COVID-19, Trump has continued to laud its supposed benefits.
“What do you have to lose?” he asked at a press briefing this week urging those sick with the virus to take the drug.
Turns out plenty.
“There could be deaths,” American Medical Association President Dr. Patrice Harris said. “This is a new virus, and so we should not be promoting any medication or drug for any disease that has not been proven and approved by the FDA.”
Generic drugmakers also are gearing up to produce hydroxychloroquine pills. One of those companies was co-founded by Trump golfing buddy Chirag Patel, according to the Times.
The White House didn’t immediately answer HuffPost’s request for comment.
John Dillard, a spokesperson for Fisher Investments, called the Times article a “false report” and said Sanofi “is neither a material holding of Fisher Investments nor of Ken Fisher personally.” He also took issue with the characterisation of his boss as a Republican donor, saying Fisher also had contributed to Democrats in the past.