Promotion of Covid-19 Treatments and Communications with Drug Companies

Former President Trump’s dubious and dangerous touting of unproven Covid-19 treatments raised serious questions about how — and why — the White House might promote certain medications. As the world waited for a coronavirus vaccine, we kept an eye on how drug manufacturers and other special interests might have influenced the administration’s response.
Pennsylvania Commonwealth microbiologist Kerry Pollard performs a manual extraction of the coronavirus inside the extraction lab at the Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Laboratories on Friday, March 6, 2020.

In the spring of 2020, then President Donald Trump repeatedly promoted the use of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19, despite the lack of evidence of its effectiveness and its potentially dangerous side effects. Whether the result of calculated political interest or simple wishful thinking, Trump’s boosting of the drug (along with his dubious scientific pronouncements) led to serious questions about whose advice he was heeding. Alarm grew after the Food and Drug Administration’s March emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine, and after later reporting revealed that officials at the Department of Health and Human Services had attempted to delay CDC reports discussing the dangers of this drug.

In June 2020, the FDA withdrew its emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine, leaving more than 65 million doses “stranded in the federal stockpile.” Then in August, the FDA came under fire when it approved convalescent plasma as an emergency treatment, again paralleling Trump’s stated beliefs. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn faced criticism for using a misleading statistic to promote the use of this treatment, and a statement from the National Institutes of Health even said that no reliable trial had proven the treatment’s efficacy. 

It’s essential that the public know how the administration reviewed and distributed any potential treatment. American Oversight is investigating the Trump administration’s negotiations with drug companies, and filed multiple requests for communications with the pharmaceutical industry as well as for agency and White House communications about coronavirus treatments.

Updates

Covid-19 Oversight News: Coronavirus Variants, the Surge in Michigan, and J&J Vaccine Supplies

April 12, 2021
For the latest news on the pandemic, as well as updates on various oversight investigations, sign up for our weekly Covid-19 Oversight News email.

Covid-19 Oversight News: Increasing Case Numbers, Updated CDC Guidance, and the Pandemic in Prisons

April 5, 2021
For the latest news on the pandemic, as well as updates on various oversight investigations, sign up for our weekly Covid-19 Oversight News email.

One Year of the Coronavirus Pandemic: The Federal Response

March 24, 2021
From the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic last year, a stumbling federal response exacerbated a once-in-a-lifetime public health crisis.

One Year of Covid-19 Oversight

March 3, 2021
A timeline of the pandemic’s first 12 months and our efforts to hold government officials accountable for their handling of the historic public health crisis.

Investigations Update: DeJoy’s Calendars, Barr’s False Voting Fraud Story, and Delays in Prescription Deliveries

September 15, 2020
See the latest in our investigations into the postmaster general’s calendars, the administration’s alarmist claims about voter fraud, and the decision to put a Trump-signed letter in food aid boxes.
Show all updates

Related Documents

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FOIA to Defense Health Agency Regarding White House Directives About Covid-19 Treatments

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October 21, 2020

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FOIA to CDC Seeking Communications with Pfizer About Potential Covid-19 Vaccine

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FOIA to DOD Seeking Coronavirus Vaccine Development Contracts

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September 15, 2020

FOIA to NIAID Seeking Email Communications Regarding Convalescent Plasma Treatment for Covid-19

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FOIA Request
September 15, 2020

FOIA to HHS Seeking Email Communications Regarding Convalescent Plasma Treatment for Covid-19

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FOIA Request
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FOIA to FDA Seeking Email Communications Regarding Convalescent Plasma Treatment for Covid-19

Department of Health and Human Services, HHS - Food and Drug Administration
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September 14, 2020

FOIA to CFPB Seeking Communications with Advance Financial

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September 9, 2020

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September 9, 2020

FOIA to FDA Seeking External Emails from Political Appointees Regarding Covid-19 Treatment

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HHS Coronavirus Vaccine Development Contracts with Janssen Pharmaceutica

Department of Health and Human Services
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July 28, 2020

Rejection from Secret Service Regarding Data on Incidence of Covid-19 Among Officers

Department of Homeland Security, DHS - United States Secret Service
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June 12, 2020

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June 12, 2020

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FOIA to CDC Seeking Recent Communications Regarding Companies Developing Vaccines for Covid-19

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June 12, 2020

FOIA to NIH Seeking Recent Communications Regarding Companies Developing Vaccines for Covid-19

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FOIA Request
June 12, 2020

FOIA to NIAID Seeking Recent Communications Regarding Companies Developing Vaccines for Covid-19

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FOIA Request
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FOIA to CMS Seeking Recent Communications Regarding Companies Developing Vaccines for Covid-19

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April 17, 2020

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April 17, 2020

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April 17, 2020

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FOIA to CDC Seeking Communications with Companies Developing Vaccines or Treatments for Coronavirus

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FOIA to NIH Seeking Communications with Companies Developing Vaccines or Treatments for Coronavirus

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April 17, 2020

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FOIA to VA Seeking Communications with Individuals Regarding Vaccines or Treatments for Coronavirus

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April 17, 2020

FOIA to VHA Seeking Communications with Individuals Regarding Vaccines or Treatments for Coronavirus

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April 17, 2020

FOIA to BOP Seeking Communications with Individuals Regarding Vaccines or Treatments for Coronavirus

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April 17, 2020

FOIA to USTR Seeking Communications with Individuals Regarding Vaccines or Treatments for Coronavirus

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April 17, 2020

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FOIA to HHS Seeking Communications with Companies Developing Vaccines or Treatments for Coronavirus

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March 27, 2020

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March 27, 2020

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March 27, 2020

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March 27, 2020

FOIA to FDA Seeking Communications Regarding Companies Developing Vaccines or Treatments for Coronavirus

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FOIA Request
March 27, 2020

FOIA to CDC Seeking Communications Regarding Companies Developing Vaccines or Treatments for Coronavirus

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FOIA Request
March 27, 2020

FOIA to NIH Seeking Communications Regarding Companies Developing Vaccines or Treatments for Coronavirus

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March 27, 2020

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March 27, 2020

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Department of Health and Human Services, HHS - Food and Drug Administration
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March 27, 2020

FOIA to FDA Seeking Records Related to Orphan-Drug Designation Requests for COVID-19 Treatments

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