FDA commissioner reacts to Trump touting hydroxychloroquine

Stephen Hahn speaks on “GMA” about President Trump promoting the drug as a treatment for COVID-19, even though the FDA revoked authorization for its emergency use.
6:13 | 08/04/20

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Transcript for FDA commissioner reacts to Trump touting hydroxychloroquine
Let's bring in the fda commissioner Stephen Hahn. Right now commissioner, thank you for joining us this morning. Can you say right now that the virus is under control? George, thanks for having me. This virus is still with us and it is around the country and we're seeing these cases come not just in the United States, but around the world. And so the really important public health message and I think we're all aligned in the white house on the task force, we need to practice these commonsense public health measures, hand washing, wear masks, follow your local ordinances, protect the most vulnerable and wash your hands frequently. That's the message we want the American people to know we have to take this seriously and we have seen these measure, George, work in terms of the plateau or the decrease in cases in some of these sun belt states so know this is an approach that does work. And the science advisers have been united behind that advice. No question about that, commissioner Hahn, but Dr. Fauci says we have to get the new cases down to about 10,000 in September to really protect ourselves going into the fall. We're still up at 40,000 or 50,000 so following the guidance out there right now, is that going to be enough? I think what we've seen in that there's always a lag in terms of the institution of these guidances and then what we see with respect to cases, and so, yes, I agree with Dr. Fauci. We need to get the case numbers down but we're all united, particularly the doctors on the task force around that these measure as peer to be working in the areas that are hot spots. What we have to do now focus on those cities, regions, areas where we think we might be seeing some increased cases and really work hard to institute these public health measures. That's the way forward because at this moment we're different than we were in March and April with respect to treatments and other aspects of this. Also last night the president continued to promote the use of hydroxychloroquine even as task force members like Dr. Fauci, like Dr. Birx say it is not recommended. That is still the fda guidance, isn't it, that the use of hydroxychloroquine is not safe and not recommended? Our guidance, we issued an emergency use authorization at the request of part of HHS, health and human service, to get drug out of the strategic national stockpile. That request came to be revoked in June which we did because the data that we had received for sick hospitalized patients no longer supported that. Now, there's been a lot of politicization, political back and forth about this and, George, this is about science and data. There are randomized trials that show it doesn't work. There are observational trials that show it might work. This is a decision that's got to rest with physicians and patients in the privacy of their room, the privacy of their conversation and of their relationship and we put out information that we want doctors to have about both the safety and the risks as well as the potential of benefits or not. Those are the data that doctors have to use. That's whey want to show. We have a graphic showing, an fda document saying it cautions against the use of hydroxychloroquine or color Quinn for covid-19 outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to the risk of heart rhythm problems, yet at the same time you have the president promoting its use. This is what I think vice president Biden was getting at in that tweet, the president seems to be at odds with his science advisers. Have you talked to him about hydroxychloroquine? I have had conversations with the president about this and the president's been very clear, it might work, it might not, one concern I have, it's been approved for over 30 years for patients who are lupus and rheumatoid arthritis and it is a safe drug but we have seen safety concerns in patients who are particularly hospitalized and have other drugs that affect the heart and so those are things that doctors really need to be aware of. But, George, I want to emphasize the fact we have other therapies available to Americans, remdesivir, steroids and also plasma. We're putting out a big push or drive for donations because it could be life saving and thank you, George, for your commitment to donation as well. That's an important message. It is absolutely critical. No question about that. A lot of hope for a vaccine as well. Can you set people's expectations on where we are with the vaccine right now and can you also assure everybody that when the fda takes on the role of determining whether that vaccine is safe and effective, that there will be no political considerations at play whatsoever? George, I want to be really clear about this and thank you for the question. Fda has amazing scientists and experts, world class with respect to vaccine and other medical products. We will make that decision based upon the science and the data from the clinical trials going. These clinical trials have moved forward at record speed. That's good news but we will use those data to make the determination. It's why we came out with guidance in late June. What are the data we're going to need to see to make a determination, call the balls and strikes around safety and efficacy. Our solemn pledge to the American people and it's worth saying over and over again the science and data are really going to guide this decision and nothing else. Because you have -- because the fda has the ability to authorize emergency use before the normal approval process is completed. There has been some concern that we'll have something of a political October surprise. So, George, I've said many times, I was a cancer doctor before I became fda commissioner. I don't have a crystal ball. When the clinical trial data are available we will expeditiously review them. Whether we use the emergency use authorization path or the regular approval path, both are available to us but our rigorous standards that we will use to assess the safety and efficacy will be done and just one other point I think will be reassuring to the American people, we have a vaccine advisory committee. It's a standard approach we have. We will be using that to help us make this decision. That is good news. Outside experts from around the country. Thanks for that reassurance, Dr. Hahn. Have a good day. Thank you, George.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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