Lisette Voytko | Forbes Magazine | April 7, 2020
Topline: The New York Times reported Monday night that President Trump has a “small personal financial interest” in Sanofi, a French drugmaker that produces a brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine, a medication touted by Trump as a coronavirus treatment—of which the effectiveness has not been proven.
Sanofi produces Plaquenil, the brand-name form of hydroxychloroquine, the Times reported; the drug is typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and malaria.
Trump’s three family trusts have investments in a Dodge & Cox mutual fund, with Sanofi as the largest holding, according to the Times.
Billionaire Ken Fisher, a major Republican donor (including to Trump) is one of Sanofi’s largest shareholders, while Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross used to run a fund that invested in Sanofi, the Times reported.
Trump in recent weeks has promoted the drug as coronavirus swept through America, but hydroxychloroquine’s effectiveness against COVID-19 has not been conclusively proven in scientific studies.
Hydroxychloroquine, the Washington Post reported Monday, has serious side effects, including a possible risk of irregular heartbeats, when COVID-19 is causing a heart infection in some of the most seriously ill patients.
A Sanofi spokesperson told the Times that the company no longer sells or distributes Plaquenil in the U.S., but does sell the drug internationally.
Crucial quote: “What really do we have to lose?” Trump asked during a Sunday press briefing, adding that because people are dying from COVID-19, “We don’t have time to say, ‘Gee let’s take a couple of years and test it out.’”Today In: Business
Key background: Trump said Sunday that the Food and Drug Administration has approved hydroxychloroquine. But the FDA has not approved it—or any drug—to treat COVID-19, CNN reported. The FDA did, however, greenlight hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to test as coronavirus treatments on March 19. Since then, the federal government has moved to stockpile millions of the pills.
Surprising fact: The French organization that published a positive study on hydroxychloroquine cited by Trump’s allies walked back the findings Friday, saying it does not meet their “expected standard.”
Tangent: When Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert, was asked directly about the effectiveness of the drug Sunday, Trump cut the reporter off saying there had been enough questions about it.