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Tag: hydroxychloroquine

'Quack' Dr. Oz Is Running For Pennsylvania GOP Senate Nomination

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Dr. Mehmet Oz, the hydroxychloroquine-pushing TV doctor widely known for promoting pseudoscience and fake treatments has decided to use his expertise to run for the U.S. Senate as a Republican, and if not fully-embrace Donald Trump, certainly align himself with the disgraced former president.

In an op-ed exclusive to the right-wing national website The Washington Examiner and in a just-released video (below), Oz announces his run, citing the nation’s response to COVID and its ramifications as a primary factor for entering politics. It’s unclear why he did not announce via a Pennsylvania publication.

“We are angry at our government and at each other,” his op-ed begins. “We have not managed our crises as effectively as past generations. During the pandemic, I learned that when you mix politics and medicine, you get politics instead of solutions. That’s why I am running for the U.S. Senate: to help fix the problems and to help us heal.”

Like more and more Republicans entering the political landscape, Oz has precisely zero experience in government, but that once-presumed prerequisite is no longer in vogue.

“Oz — a longtime New Jersey resident — would enter a Republican field that is resetting with an influx of candidates and a new opportunity to appeal to voters loyal to former President Donald Trump, now that the candidate endorsed by Trump has just exited the race,” The Associated Press reports. “Oz may have to explain why he isn’t running for office in New Jersey, where he has lived for the past two decades before he began voting in Pennsylvania’s elections this year by absentee ballot, registered to his in-laws’ address in suburban Philadelphia.

”The “celebrity heart surgeon,” the AP adds, “has been dogged by accusations that he is a charlatan selling “quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain,” a group of doctors wrote in 2015 in a letter calling for his firing from Columbia University’s medical school. He wasn’t fired.”

The Daily Beast at the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year labeled Oz an “alleged quack” and asked why he was chosen as the face of NBC’s “Coronavirus Crisis Team.”

“Oz began making regular appearances on Fox News after the start of the pandemic, and in the spring of 2020 came under fire for comments suggesting that reopening schools might be worth the extra deaths, because it ‘may only cost us 2% to 3% in terms of total mortality,'” the AP notes. “Researchers from the University of Alberta found in 2014 that, of 80 randomly selected recommendations from Oz’s shows, often dietary advice, roughly half was unsupported by evidence, or contradicted by it.”

Watch Oz’s statement, which includes Trump rhetoric like “America first.”That’s far from the only attack on Oz’s credibility as a medical professional.


How Right-Wing Media Promote Ivermectin Scams

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

The ivermectin debacle shows the lengths that influential right-wing media figures are willing to go to avoid encouraging their viewers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Propagandists like Fox News star Tucker Carlson would rather promote an anti-parasite drug that health agencies say has not been shown to be effective against the virus than the vaccines they say are almost miraculously so.

But the saga also shows how the right-wing movement functions as a money-making operation that serves up its hapless members to scammers.

NBC News' Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny last month detailed a scheme to cash in on people who want ivermectin, but can't get a prescription from a responsible medical practitioner. SpeakWithAnMD.com, they reported, is a telemedicine website touted on anti-vaccination social media communities for serving as a pill mill for ivermectin. The website offers consultations for $90; asks prospective patients whether they are seeking ivermectin, the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, or another medication; and promises same-day delivery of prescribed drugs through an online pharmacy.

The telemedicine website has ties to the broader right-wing infrastructure, NBC News further reported. It partners with America's Frontline Doctors, a fringe-right medical organization that regularly promotes COVID-19 misinformation and has drawn sympathetic coverage from Fox News and other right-wing outlets. (That group's founder, Dr. Simone Gold, was arrested after storming the U.S. Capitol during the January 6 insurrection and charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct.)

This grift relies on three elements. First, demand for ivermectin is expanding due to its promotion by right-wing and contrarian media personalities and on social media platforms. Second, legitimate supply is limited because responsible doctors don't want to give their patients a drug that the Food and Drug Administration and the drug's manufacturer, among others, do not recommend as a treatment for COVID-19. And third, the drug is generally safe with proper dosing, limiting liability for the grifters. The marks are separated from their money but are otherwise fine -- unless they actually have or get COVID-19 and thought that ivermectin was a substitute for the vaccines or more proven therapeutics.

Wealthy right-wing propagandists like Carlson, his prime-time colleagues Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, and the litany of other notables who have touted ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment each play an essential role in this scheme, even if there's no reason to think they directly profit from it. By serving as hype men for a drug when there's little to no evidence it actually works, they are helping to fuel demand from an audience that trusts them. If they were to do otherwise -- if they were to reveal to their viewers that they were being taken advantage of by con artists -- the whole plot would likely collapse.

Right-wing media companies are built on this type of con culture. Outlets and personalities use ideological, often paranoid, political coverage to build connections with their audiences. They convince those audience members that mainstream information sources that present contradictory narratives can't be trusted. And then they bilk those marks for all they are worth.

The business model for Newsmax, the TV and digital empire overseen by Christopher Ruddy, revolves around this sort of grift. Its real moneymakers are its health and financial newsletters, authored by various charlatans, and its huge email lists, which consist overwhelmingly of older conservatives whom Ruddy gleefully sells out to any snake oil peddler or fraudster who can pay his fee. All of this has been well-known for years. But former President Donald Trump still goes on his close friend Ruddy's TV network; Trump's ludicrously dishonest first press secretary, Sean Spicer, is one of its hosts; Republican governors and members of Congress are frequent guests; and Newsmax's website publishes an array of columnists from all factions of the GOP. None of them care.

But Newsmax has simply perfected a business strategy seen throughout the right-wing press. Everywhere you turn, Republican luminaries and storied publications are renting their email lists to quacks hocking phony cures for Alzheimer's disease and financial conmen promising a path to riches for just a small fee. Commentators ranging from the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to the podcaster Joe Rogan to the "cool kid's philosopher" Ben Shapiro are all hocking brain pills of dubious effect. If you watch a few Fox commercial breaks, you'll hear all about the purported benefits of predatory reverse mortgages and how gold is the investment you need to protect yourself from the coming market crash.

All of these shady sales pitches boil down to a simple narrative: The experts and the mainstream press are conning you. They don't want you to know about Ronald Reagan's "secret cancer cure," or how to make your brain extra smooth, or how you can use their very affordable investment tips to escape ruin during the impending financial apocalypse, or about the survival food stockpile you'll need when the FEMA camps open. In fact, if you were one of the sheeple who watches the mainstream media, you probably wouldn't even know about the FEMA camps. Aren't you the lucky one?

These appeals are potent in part because they feed on the arguments that right-wing media have been making for decades. The lies and perfidy of the mainstream press and the secret knowledge available to right-wing media consumers are core precepts of the worldview that these outlets propagate.

None of these pathologies were paused for the pandemic. Instead, as the virus spread across the country, many right-wing media figures turned to peddling a host of fraudulent coronavirus treatments, at times drawing action from regulators. Conspiracy theorists and charlatans cashed in by rebranding themselves into contrarian COVID-19 gurus.And the leading lights of the right-wing commentariat have ping-ponged from one dubious therapeutic to another, while offering their followers a range of reasons why they may not want to take the safe, effective vaccines.

They've primed their audiences to believe bullshit, and there are plenty of grifters who are more than willing to take advantage. In right-wing media's long con, the dupes shell out while the propagandists get rich.

Most-Cited Study Promoting Ivermectin Appears To Be Fraudulent

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Everyone wants the same thing when it comes to COVID-19: A cheap, effective, reliable treatment that can be easily administered to anyone who shows symptoms, with good assurance that they'll quickly recover. There are existing treatments for COVID-19 in the form of monoclonal antibody treatments from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Vir Biotechnology, but those treatments are expensive, difficult to administer, and available in limited quantities. Unless those factors change, these treatments will never become the kind of panacea we need.

If there was something that could be packaged into a pill, or even an EpiPen-style injectable, and handed to everyone as soon as they received a positive test for COVID-19, it would be great. Every health professional wishes that hydroxychloroquine had turned out to be that safe and effective treatment. It just didn't. Every health professional wishes the same about ivermectin. Widely available? Check. Easily administered? Yes. Safe and effective? Well …

For months, fans of ivermectin persuaded by online enthusiasm have been pushing the anti-parasitic based on the same kind of evidence that was once behind the hydroxychloroquine buzz: small, non-clinical "trials" that mostly consist of anecdotal results from a single doctor or proactive. More recently, there have been supposed "metanalyses" that, unfortunately, have lumped a lot of low-reliability data together and given it a veneer of respectability. Some of those involved in these studies have even been invited to the Senate as guests of Republicans, where they have claimed ivermectin is 100 percent effective in stopping COVID-19, and included completely false data to create the impression of a "wonder drug."

The claims about ivermectin have been so pervasive—and apparently, so persuasive—that they've made regular appearances in Daily Kos comments. Doctors are being pushed to prescribe the stuff by patients who refuse to accept other treatment unless they're first given ivermectin. And the refusal to accept the truth about ivermectin is costing lives.

Here's the truth about ivermectin: It's a widely prescribed drug used in treatment of parasites in both humans and animals. With proper dosages and duration of treatment, it has a very good safety record, and it is extremely effective at treating everything from common roundworm to the parasites that carry river blindness.

If someone is getting ivermectin in normal doses, using genuine pharmaceutical-grade drugs that don't contain ingredients not meant for human consumption (many veterinary formulations do have such ingredients) and sticking to the standard timeline of treatment, they are unlikely to suffer lasting harm. As with almost any drug, ivermectin has common side effects: skin rash, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. It also has some rarer side effects, including severe liver damage. If you need ivermectin because you are facing a parasite for which it is the standard treatment, take it.

Here's the other truth about ivermectin: If it has any positive effect on the treatment of COVID-19, that effect is small, difficult to detect, and far from universal.

How is it possible to know this? Because the National Institutes of Health have compiled a list of studies on the use of ivermectin in the treatment of COVID-19. What that list shows, over and over again, is results such as this:

  • "A 5-day course of IVM did not improve time to resolution of symptoms in patients with mild COVID-19."
  • "A 5-day course of IVM in hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19 did not result in clinical improvement at the end of treatment, and no reduction in mortality was observed."
  • "Use of IVM did not reduce risk of oxygen requirement, ICU admission, invasive mechanical ventilation, or death in hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19."
  • "IVM showed no effect on symptom resolution in patients with mild COVID-19."
  • "Compared to SOC, use of IVM did not lead to faster recovery from mild to moderate COVID-19."
  • "Patients who received IVM showed no difference in viral clearance compared to those who received placebo."
  • "In hospitalized patients with COVID-19 pneumonia who were not critically ill, neither IVM nor HCQ decreased the number of in-hospital days, rate of respiratory deterioration, or mortality."

Several of these were studies where the original authors suggested that there had been positive effects from treatment with ivermectin, but these effects disappeared on closer analysis from researchers at the NIH.

Among the list of studies, there are a handful that do appear to indicate positive results.

  • A study that supposedly demonstrated that ivermectin combined with doxycycline was a superior treatment to hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, but the actual results showed no statistical difference or evidence that either treatment was an improvement over standard of care.
  • A very small study showed some evidence that the level of virus was reduced when ivermectin was given at three times the normal dose.
  • Another very small study indicated that ivermectin shortened hospital stays, but didn't have a placebo group or consider co-morbidities.
  • Another very small study indicated that a handful of patients had reduced hospital stays, but the number being treated was so small it easily could have been a statistical fluke.
  • The best of the studies showing some durable positive result involved about 250 patients, with a lowering of both hospital stays and mortality after a single dose of ivermectin.

And that's pretty much it. That's what the real literature has to show when it comes to studies, including most of those in pre-print that have not faced peer review. That handful of positive results is enough that the NIH is continuing studying the effectiveness of ivermectin and working it into a large trial. The U.K. is also adding ivermectin to its massive RECOVERY trial.

Either of these trials, or other large trials going on around the world, may find positive benefits from ivermectin. But those benefits, if they exist are going to be marginal, not miraculous. We know that, because that's what the data—positive and negative—already makes clear. In addition to the data examined by the NIH, the World Health Organization reviewed available data and indicated that there was "very low certainty" of any net positive effect from ivermectin.

Of course, this result doesn't match what's circulating widely in social media, and even on broadcast media. That includes how Japan has supposedly seen such good results from ivermectin, they've made it standard of care for all COVID-19 patients. Except they haven't. As NHK World reports, Japan's ministry of health has placed ivermectin "in a category of drugs whose efficacy and safety have not been established." A quick Google search on Japan will bring up studies like this one titled "wonder drug from Japan," but it refers to how the treatment was originally extracted from bacteria located near a Japanese golf course—and earned its discoverer a Nobel Prize. Ivermectin really is very good against parasites.

What about [Insert Country Here]? The answers in most cases are the same as in Japan. There are some countries, particularly in South America, which have authorized the use of ivermectin against COVID-19. Those authorizations appear to be connected to a study that came from Argentina. That study, referenced by many of the positive "meta analyses" as well as figures like vaccine skeptic Joe Rogan, indicated that ivermectin was that dream drug: easily administered, almost universally effective, and safe.

However, as BuzzFeed makes clear, there are some problems with that study. In fact, that study is nothing but a problem. That includes the study taking place at a hospital that says it never happened, along with basic patient data that changes from page to page. The researcher behind the study refuses to share notes or data.

In short, it doesn't look like the study was just badly put together. It looks like it was completely fabricated. And this is the study. The one that's been cited over and over as the justification for going all in on ivermectin.

There have also been claims, including testimony before the Senate, that Peru added ivermectin to its standard of care and immediately saw a decrease in COVID-19 cases. Only that testimony has the timeline completely backward. When it comes to ivermectin, Peru is where America is now back in the fall of 2020. That's when Nature reported on how rumors and false claims had driven a nationwide fury for ivermectin. Doctors could not prescribe it fast enough. Thousands of doses of animal-grade ivermectin were seized from smugglers. So many people were taking ivermectin that one researcher had trouble beginning a controlled trial. "Of about 10 people who come, I'd say eight have taken ivermectin and cannot participate in the study."

All of this came before cases in Peru soared. The same is true of Bolivia. The same is true of Guatemala. Widespread use of ivermectin in all these countries did not stop them from experiencing massive spikes in disease, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Finally, ivermectin in the U.S. has been pushed heavily by groups like Front Line COVID Critical Care (FLCCC), who are—and this is putting it mildly—scam artists. Before they were handing out scripts for ivermectin, they were all in on pushing hydroxychloroquine. Before that, their founder was busy explaining that ovarian cysts were caused by demon sperm. In this pandemic, FLCCC is nothing but war profiteers of the worst kind and the disinformation and propaganda they are spreading, including attacks on the FDA and NIH, are designed to generate false hope of a miracle cure for the purpose of lining their pockets.

The idea that any treatment is being suppressed by some coalition of U.S. government agencies, the World Health Organization, and the health care agencies of practically every nation on the planet is a conspiracy theory. If there was evidence of ivermectin's efficiency, it would be used. It's not used because there is no such evidence.

It is not being held back because it's cheap and other treatments are expensive. Ivermectin actually costs more than any of the available vaccines. Other treatments, like anti-inflammatory steroids, have become part of standard of care exactly because they have proven effective.

If ivermectin works against COVID-19 at all, its value will almost certainly be marginal. That's okay. Almost every drug that comes to market is of marginal, and sometimes picayune, benefit. If taking ivermectin provides even a small benefit in protecting COVID-19 patients, it will become part of the standard of care. That's how this works.

That doesn't mean there isn't a conspiracy that's killing those infected with COVID-19. There is. It's the one pushing ivermectin as a miracle cure. That false idea is getting people killed.

I wish that wasn't the case. The FDA wishes that wasn't the case. Joe Biden and Anthony Fauci and every doctor in every ICU in America wishes that wasn't the case. But it is.

Sen. Johnson Invites Quack To Testify On Vaccines, Dangerous Virus ‘Cure’

As the world readies for the release of a coronavirus vaccine, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) invited an anti-vaccine doctor to testify in a hearing that promotes the use of a coronavirus treatment the Federal Drug Administration not only deems ineffective but also dangerous.

Dr. Jane Orient is one of four witnesses set to testify Tuesday morning at a hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that Johnson leads. She told the New York Times that she's skeptical of the forthcoming vaccine because, among other reasons, its "effect on fertility has not been determined" — a concern that is not based on any evidence.

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Trump Promotes Quack Who Warned Against 'Alien DNA' And Sex With 'Demons'

Donald Trump on Tuesday praised a crackpot doctor whose videos containing false information on the coronavirus have been removed from social media platforms — another reminder of how attempts by Trump to moderate his tone and project an air of seriousness tend to be short-lived.

In a daily coronavirus briefing, Trump promoted a video by Stella Immanuel, whose viral video saying masks don't work to stop the spread of coronavirus and falsely stating hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment for COVID-19 have been removed from multiple social media platforms.

Public health experts say masks are a very effective tool to prevent transmission of the virus — and that hydroxychloroquine is not only ineffective at treating COVID-19 but can also cause dangerous adverse side effects."There was a — a woman who was spectacular in her statements about it, that she's had tremendous success with it," Trump said, referencing Immanuel. "And they took her — they took her voice off. I don't know why they took her off, but they took her off. Maybe they had a good reason, maybe they didn't. I don't know."

Both Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr., shared the now-removed video in which Immanuel spread false coronavirus information.

Trump Jr. was even suspended from Twitter for 12 hours for sharing the video, as it violated the social media platform's policy against spreading misinformation on the virus.

After Trump praised Immanuel, CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins pointed out that not only was Immanuel's information on the virus wrong, but she's also shared bizarre medical information in the past — including that doctors are treating people with space alien DNA and that some gynecological issues are caused by women having sex with demons.

"The woman that you said is a great doctor in that video that you retweeted last night said masks don't work and there is a cure for COVID-19, both of which health experts say is not true. She's also made videos saying that doctors make medicine using DNA from aliens, and that they're trying to create a vaccine to make you immune from becoming religious," Collins said to Trump.

She went on to ask Trump what the "logic" was behind spreading false information from someone like Immanuel.

"I don't know which country she comes from, but she said that she's had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients," Trump said of Immanuel, who is Black and apparently studied medicine in Nigeria. "And I thought her voice was an important voice, but I know nothing about her." (Their exchange about Immanuel begins at 25:13 in the press conference video below.) A few moments later, Trump left the press podium.

Trump's pushing of false information and praise of Immanuel comes as his aides urged Trump to restart daily coronavirus briefings in an effort to project what some in the media described as a "new tone" and help with his flailing reelection bid.

However, his behavior on Tuesday showed the risk of that strategy, as Trump has a history of pushing conspiracy theories and making questionable comments — such as the time he mused about injecting disinfectant as a treatment for the coronavirus. Injecting disinfectant is not a cure for the virus, and in fact is extremely dangerous.



Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Twitter Suspends Don Jr. For Spreading Wacky Coronavirus Lies

Donald Trump Jr. has been temporarily suspended from Twitter, after he shared a video from Stella Immanuel, a Texas doctor who said masks aren't necessary to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and that hydroxychloroquine — which the FDA now says is not an effective COVID-19 treatment — is a "cure" for the virus.

Twitter has since deleted the video, in which Immanuel also said there are "fake doctors" who "sound like a computer." Facebook also removed Immanuel's video, causing her to issue a bizarre threat in which she said "if my page is not back up face book will be down in Jesus name."

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Caught Smearing Fauci, White House Denies Any Role In Oppo Assault

After days of White House attacks on Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Trump administration is now claiming it "values" the expertise of its medical advisers.

Peter Navarro, Donald Trump's top trade adviser, published a scathing opinion piece in USA Today on Tuesday attacking Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force.

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