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Critics say Trump pushing hydroxychloroquine due to his financial ties to manufacturers

Published on 08/04/20 at 10:25am
Photo by Gage Skidmore

Critics are arguing that President Donald Trump is touting the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment because he has financial links to manufacturers of the drug.

The New York Times reported that each of Trump’s three family trusts had investments in a Dodge & Cox mutual fund. This type of fund is a portfolio that pools together money from several investors and invests the capital across various assets like stocks and bonds.

The largest holding in these specific funds was in Sanofi, a pharmaceutical company that makes hydroxychloroquine under the brand name Plaquenill. Since Trump began endorsing hydroxychloroquine, Sanofi’s share price has risen around 16%, from $78.67 at market close on March 20 to $91.12 on Monday night.

The New York Times concluded that: “The president's assertiveness in pressing the case over the advice of advisers like Dr Anthony S Fauci, the government's top infectious disease specialist, has driven a wedge inside his coronavirus task force and has raised questions about his motives.”

Critics are also alleging that Novartis, another producer of hydroxychloroquine, has influenced Trump consistently bringing up the treatment at press conferences. In 2017, Novartis signed a contract with Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen for health care policy consulting. This was a one-year contract with Cohen’s shell company, Essential Consultants, costing $100,000 per month, for advice on how the Trump administration might approach healthcare policy. But this ended one month into the deal.

However, both of these financial links do not necessarily mean they have influenced the President. Business Insider investigated the mutual fund and worked out that according to a prospectus from December 2019, Trump’s largest holding in Sanofi could equate to as little as $99, a small amount of money for the self-described billionaire.

In terms of Novartis, Michael Cohen is currently spending time in prison for campaign finance violations and lying to Congress among other charges. Trump has since distanced himself from his old lawyer. Combined with Novartis quickly ended their contract with Cohen, it seems unlikely this has influenced Trump’s endorsement of hydroxychloroquine.

Conor Kavanagh

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