By Elizabeth Lee Vliet, M.D.
Front-line physicians treating patients with SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 are seeing an alarming, escalating, orchestrated attack on chloroquine (CQ) and its safer derivative, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). Both medicines have been safely used in millions of patients worldwide for malaria prevention and treatment since FDA-approved for safety and effectiveness in 1934 and 1955, respectively. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists CQ and HCQ as “essential medicines” because of safety, effectiveness, low cost, and wide availability.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) itself has published guidelines on its website: “ Hydroxychloroquine can be prescribed to adults and children of all ages. It can also be safely taken by pregnant women and nursing mothers.”
About side effects, CDC says: “Hydroxychloroquine is a relatively well tolerated medicine. The most common adverse reactions reported are stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and headache. These side effects can often be lessened by taking hydroxychloroquine with food. Hydroxychloroquine may also cause itching in some people. All medicines may have some side effects. Minor side effects such as nausea, occasional vomiting, or diarrhea usually do not require stopping the antimalarial drug.”
On duration of use: “CDC has no limits on the use of hydroxychloroquine for the prevention of malaria. When hydroxychloroquine is used at higher doses for many years, a rare eye condition called retinopathy has occurred. People who take hydroxychloroquine for more than five years should get regular eye exams.”
NOTE: CDC guidelines for use in malaria do not even mention the “fatal heart arrhythmia” hyped in the fear-mongering articles in the media. Rheumatology guidelines for HCQ in lupus and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) do not require a baseline EKG to check heart rhythm, although doctors might order one before prescribing HCQ if needed for a patient with heart disease. SARS-CoV-2 itself, which can damage to the heart, may be responsible for some heart problems now blamed on HCQ.
So, CDC has said CQ and HCQ are safe and well tolerated for years to prevent and treat malaria. FDA later approved HCQ for treating lupus and RA, with millions taking much higher doses over decades, not days.
When used for COVID-19, successful worldwide treatment protocols recommend low dose, short duration (5-7 days) hydroxychloroquine early in the illness to help reduce severity and rate of spread, and reduce hospitalizations. Why the firestorm against HCQ to be used for 5-7 days in COVID-19, when it is used for decades at higher doses in Lupus and RA? It simply makes no medical sense.
Critics claim we have “no evidence” for use in coronavirus. They willfully ignore that we DO have data from 2002-2005 showing HCQ has potent antiviral action early in the illness of SARS-CoV. Why don’t FDA, CDC, WHO, Dr. Fauci, the American Medical Association, and most media tell you about this?
Dr. Fauci, FDA and CDC have up to the minute, country by country data on number of cases, number of deaths, and number of deaths per million population. Their failure to allow, and even encourage, physicians to offer HCQ as an option to COVID-19 patients early in the disease is causing more deaths in America compared to countries using HCQ at the earliest onset of infection. Draw your own conclusions from some examples as of April 27, 2020:
|Country||# of cases||# of deaths||Deaths/million||Use of HCQ|
|India||27,890||881||0.6||Early and prophylactic|
|Costa Rica||695||6||1.0||Early and prophylactic|
|Australia||6,716||83||3.0||Early and prophylactic|
|South Korea||10,728||242||5.0||Early and prophylactic|
|Brazil||62,859||4,271||20.0||Early and prophylactic|
|Israel||15,443||201||23.0||Early, some prophylactic use|
|U.S.||987,160||55,413||167.0||Late, in hospitalized patients|
The differences are stark. Patients in Third-World countries, where these inexpensive, long-established remedies are used early, when HCQ is most likely to be effective, are dying in far lower numbers than patients in the U.S., where politicians and entrenched bureaucrats interfere with physicians’ medical decisions.
India, Brazil, Israel, Costa Rica, South Korea and other countries are also using HCQ as prophylactic therapy to help keep doctors and nurses from becoming ill caring for COVID19 patients. Governors in 46 of 50 states prevent US doctors and nurses from access to this option for their protection, ignoring success in multiple other countries.
US physicians are restricted by FDA and many Governors to late use of HCQ in seriously ill hospitalized patients, which has led the US to higher complication rates, longer hospitalizations, more deaths, and devastating economic damage from the prolonged shutdown.
Our FDA, CDC, governors and state medical and pharmacy boards imply that “off-label” prescribing for HCQ in COVID-19 is illegal or fraudulent. Off-label simply means a new disease use different from the one originally approved. Politicians and FDA bureaucrats are causing serious damage over-ruling long-standing FDA regulations that allow doctors to legally prescribe any approved medicine for a new use.
Dr. Fauci, who has been directing the US. pandemic response, has failed to report any of the many positive basic science and successful clinical outcomes results from the U.S. and more than a dozen other countries. Why?
Dr. Fauci’s focus has been that we need to wait for a vaccine to safely re-open the country. Why? He knows vaccines take months to years to develop. Surely he is also aware of the safety issues of vaccines rushed to market without adequate testing.
Political brinkmanship and hidden agendas –political or financial or both–are a dangerous and deadly game. HCQ is not a panacea, but it IS saving lives around the world.
The right to preserve our life is our most fundamental civil liberty enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution. Doctors, nurses, patients, and civil rights attorneys must fight back with every tool at our disposal. We need to take legal action against agencies and Governors working against the public interest.
We do not have time to waste. People are dying. Our economy is dying.
Author/Contributor short bio:
- Dr. Vliet has been a leader in patient centered, individualized medical care. Since 1986, she has practiced medicine independent of insurance contracts that interfere with patient-physician relationships and decision-making. Dr. Vliet focus is medical freedom and free market approaches to healthcare. Dr. Vliet is the founder of Vive Life Center and Hormone Health Strategies with medical practices in Tucson AZ and Dallas TX, specializing in preventive and climacteric medicine with an integrated approach to evaluation and treatment of women and men with complex medical and hormonal problems from puberty to late life.
- Dr. Vliet is a 2014 Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipient for her national and international educational efforts in health, wellness, and endocrine aging in men and women, and is recognized in the US as a motivational speaker in health and wellness and a powerful patient advocate, proponent of free market approaches to lower healthcare costs. Dr. Vliet is the recipient of Voice of Women Award from Arizona Foundation for Women in recognition of her pioneering advocacy for the overlooked hormone connections in women’s health.
- Dr. Vliet’s consumer health books include: It’s My Ovaries, Stupid; Screaming To Be Heard: Hormonal Connections Women Suspect– And Doctors STILL Ignore; Women, Weight and Hormones; The Savvy Woman’s Guide to PCOS, The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Great Sex, Strength, and Stamina.
- Dr. Vliet is a past Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a member of the AAPS Editorial Writing Team on healthcare reform, and a member of International Menopause Society and the International Society for The Study of the Aging Male (ISSAM). She received her M.D. degree and internship in Internal Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School, and completed specialty training at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She earned her B.S. and Master’s degrees from the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
- Dr. Vliet has appeared on FOX NEWS, Cavuto, Stuart Varney Show, Fox and Friends, Sean Hannity and many nationally syndicated radio shows across the country as well as presented hundreds of Healthcare Town Halls addressing the economic and medical impact of the 2010 healthcare law and free market reforms, as well as seminars and radio shows on healthcare reform, Men’s Health and Women’s Health.
- Dr. Vliet speaks as an independent physician, not as an official spokesperson for any organization or political party. Dr. Vliet has no financial ties to any health care system or health insurance plan. Her allegiance and advocacy is to and for patients.