No Evidence Supports Oleandrin, Favored Therapeutic of the MyPillow Guy, for COVID-19

Statement of CSPI President Dr. Peter G. Lurie

Structural diagram of oleandrin
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When President Trump suggested that bleach, taken for COVID-19 “by injection inside or almost a cleaning,” where it would “do a tremendous number on the lungs,” many Americans laughed it off.

But some did not. What the President says about the pandemic matters. No matter how outwardly laughable his pronouncements, some fraction of the country will act on his advice. Some fraction of those will be hurt. And some will die. That was likely true for bleach and certainly true for hydroxychloroquine, and will almost inevitably be true for oleandrin, an extract of the poisonous plant with the similar name.

Yes, it’s claimed that the product may have antiviral activity in a test tube. But that’s a far cry from demonstrating effectiveness against actual patients in a properly conducted study. And no one should be using the product absent such evidence.

President Trump is trapped in a COVID-19 misinfodemic of his own creation, composed of Fox News personalities, unqualified eccentrics such as Rudy Giuliani and Peter Navarro, and now a discredited pillow salesman. It should be unnecessary to say this, but I urge the Food and Drug Administration not to repeat the hydroxychloroquine debacle and to resist the President’s flirtation with oleandrin.

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Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Richard Adcock (radcock[at]cspinet.org).