KEY POINTS

  • Pence admitted he wasn't taking hydroxychloroquine during an interview Tuesday, saying his physician did not recommend taking it for coronavirus
  • This comes a day after President Trump said he had been taking that anti-malaria drug daily, in combination with other antibiotics
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci and the Food and Drug Administration have both advised not taking hydroxychloroquine because of the possibly deadly side-effects

Vice President Mike Pence broke with President Donald Trump on Tuesday, telling reporters he is not taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventative measure against the coronavirus. While Pence didn’t dismiss the idea of taking it, he said it was ultimately up to his doctor how best to treat him.

“My physician hasn’t recommended that, but I wouldn’t hesitate to take the counsel of my doctor,” Pence told Fox News White House correspondent Kristin Fisher. “Any American should do likewise.”

Pence’s comment follows Trump stating Monday that he was taking a daily dose of hydroxychloroquine, along with zinc and azithromycin, to help prevent COVID-19. Two White House staffers have recently tested positive for the coronavirus.

Trump and some in his administration have long championed the possibility of using hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for COVID-19. Trump touted the anti-malaria drug as a possible “game-changer” in fighting the pandemic and pushed to receive 50 million tablets from India. However, his push was met with almost immediate backlash by some in his administration.

The most notable critic was Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of Trump’s coronavirus response team, who warned that the drug was “unproven” against the coronavirus and shouldn’t be rushed out to hospitals. This reportedly caused friction within the administration, most notably culminating in a reported confrontation with trade advisor Peter Navarro during a meeting in April.

“There has never been a confrontation in the task force meetings like the one yesterday,” a source, whose name wasn’t released, told Axios about the April 4 meeting. “People speak up and there's robust debate, but there's never been a confrontation. Yesterday was the first confrontation.”

The Food and Drug Administration followed Fauci in voicing its concern about the use of hydroxychloroquine. The agency warned that the drug could cause “serious heart rhythm problems” in patients being treated for or recovering from the coronavirus.

Despite the warning, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said Tuesday it was the doctor’s decision about how to best treat their patient.

“The decision to take any drug is ultimately a decision between a patient and their doctor,” Hahn said in a statement. “Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are already FDA-approved for treating malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.”

US Vice President Mike Pence US Vice President Mike Pence Photo: AFP / SAUL LOEB