Fox News host Neil Cavuto was shocked by President Donald Trump's announcement on Monday that he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive treatment for coronavirus, and warned of the drug's potential side effects.
While answering questions from reporters, Trump said he has taken a hydroxychloroquine pill "every day" for a week and a half.
"I take it," the president said. "I would've told you that three to four days ago, but we never had a chance because you never asked me the question."
Reacting to Trump's announcement, Cavuto mentioned a recent study by the Department of Veterans Affairs and academic researchers, which said that hydroxychloroquine had no benefit on coronavirus patients and is linked to higher death rates for VA patients hospitalized with the disease.
"A VA study showed that among a population in a hospital receiving this treatment, those with vulnerable conditions - respiratory conditions, heart ailments - they died," Cavuto said, before mentioning other studies that similarly found that the drug is not effective at treating coronavirus.
-Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) May 18, 2020
Trump on Monday suggested the VA study was conducted "with people that aren't big Trump fans."
But Cavuto countered that on his show, saying the study Trump alluded to "wasn't a loaded political one."
"It was a test on patients there, and those who took it in a vulnerable population, including those with respiratory or other conditions, they died," Cavuto said. "I want to stress again: They died. If you are in a risky population here, and you are taking this as a preventative treatment to ward off the virus or in a worst case scenario you are dealing with the virus, and you are in this vulnerable population, it will kill you. I cannot stress enough: This will kill you."
He added: "So again, whatever benefits the president says this has - and certainly has had for those suffering from malaria, dealing with lupus - this is a leap that should not be taken casually by those watching at home who are assuming, well, the president of the United States says it's OK. Even the FDA was very cautious about this unless in a clinical trial safely and deliberately watched. I only make this not to make a political point here, but a life-and-death point. Be very, very careful."
The president and his allies have repeatedly pushed hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug, as an effective treatment for coronavirus.
Right after Cavuto went off the air, Fox News host Greg Gutfeld of "The Five" encouraged viewers to take the drug.
"If it's available to you and you can take it, you do it," Gutfeld said. "That's a prudent way of looking at it."
-Steven Lemongello (@SteveLemongello) May 18, 2020
The FDA has warned against using hydroxychloroquine "outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems." The National Institutes of Health has also advised caution when prescribing it.
Several recent studies have also raised questions about the effectiveness of the drug.
Trump countered the evidence against the drug's dangers by touting anecdotal evidence.
"Here we go - you ready?" Trump said. "Here's my evidence: I get a lot of positive calls about it. The only negative I've heard was the study where they gave it - was it the VA? - with people that aren't big Trump fans ... and the results of the report - it was very unscientific, by the way - but I get a lot of tremendously positive news on the hydroxy. And I use the expression ... what do you have to lose?"