An Unproven COVID Remedy Is Making the Rounds

Extract of oleander has been pitched directly to President Trump
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2020 12:20 PM CDT
An Unproven COVID Remedy Is Making the Rounds
Stock image of oleander.   (Getty/Anatoliy Sadovskiy)

You've heard of hydroxychloroquine. Now another unproven coronavirus remedy is generating headlines—oleandrin, the extract of the oleander plant. A report by Jonathan Swan of Axios says that a strong ally of the president, MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, arranged an Oval Office meeting between Trump and an exec with a company called Phoenix, which makes the extract. "He was enthusiastic," Lindell tells CNN of Trump, "as he is on everything that's going to help people." HUD Secretary Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, is another advocate, according to both outlets. The Axios report says Trump has "expressed enthusiasm" for the FDA to green-light the drug as a treatment or at least as a dietary supplement, though the president himself didn't seem overly familiar with the subject when asked about it Monday.

"Is it something people are talking about very strongly?" he asked the reporter who raised the question. "We'll look at it, we'll look at it, we're looking at a lot of different things. I will say the FDA has been great. ... I have heard that name mentioned, we'll find out." No peer-reviewed studies are out on oleandrin, though a non-peer-reviewed one suggested it had some benefit in curbing the virus. The Phoenix exec, Andrew Whitney, promises that a peer-reviewed lab study is coming soon. Lindell, for the record, recently acquired a financial stake in the company. The Washington Post also reported on the Whitney-Trump meeting, and the story quotes a skeptical, unnamed official: “If people were left to their own devices, this would be the next hydroxychloroquine." (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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