Sunday, May 17, 2020

Utica (NY) Observer-Dispatch - OUR VIEW: VA must heed Schumer query on malaria drug

Anyone familiar with the book, “Waiting for An Army to Die” has a pretty good idea of how the US government acts when it comes to veterans’ health issues. The book by Fred Wilcox tells of the horrific treatment of Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange and the generations of suffering that continues to this day.
It is why we strongly urge US Sen. Charles Schumer to hang tough on his demand for the Department of Veterans Affairs to explain why it allowed the use of the controversial drug, hydroxychloroquine, on veterans for the coronavirus. Use of the unproven drug, Schumer says, may have put patients at unnecessary risk.
The Senate minority leader said VA needs to provide Congress more information about a recent bulk order for $208,000 worth of hydroxychloroquine – a drug used to treat malaria that President Donald Trump has heavily promoted as a treatment for COVID-19.
Schumer’s request came after a whistleblower complaint filed last week by former Health and Human Services official Rick Bright alleging that the Trump administration, eager for a quick fix to the coronavirus, wanted to “flood” hot spots in New York and New Jersey with the drug. Major veterans organizations have urged the VA to explain under what circumstances VA doctors initiate discussion of hydroxychloroquine with veterans as a treatment option.
“There are concerns that they are using this drug when the medical evidence says it doesn’t help and could hurt,” Schumer told the Associated Press.
Schumer further said that VA Secretary Robert Wilkie needs to answer questions about a recent analysis of VA hospital data that showed there were more deaths among patients given hydroxychloroquine versus standard care, including how much patients knew about the drug’s risks before taking it. He said VA needs to address whether anyone at the department was pressured by the White House or the administration to use hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19.
“These are people who risked their lives for us,” Schumer said. “They should be treated only with the utmost dignity, respect and high standards of care.”

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