8 drugs Trump has been given for his COVID-19 treatment

Since President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19 Oct. 1, he has been given a variety of drugs intended to shorten his recovery time and ease symptoms. 

Though no drug has been FDA approved to treat the virus, a handful have shown positive results in clinical trials. The president has been given drugs that are being tested in clinical trials and aren't available to the general public. 

The eight drugs the president reportedly has been given: 

  1. Dexamethasone — President Trump was prescribed the steroid dexamethasone, a drug commonly used to treat asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and certain cancer, on Oct. 3. Sean Conley, DO, the president's physician, said the steroid was given to him in response to his blood oxygen levels dropping twice to 93 percent, according to STAT.

    The steroid is typically recommended for hospitalized patients who need oxygen or are on ventilators. A study released in June showed that dexamethasone reduced deaths by one-third for those who had been sick for more than a week and were on mechanical ventilators, but had no impact on patients receiving no respiratory support. The study suggested that the drug may do more harm than good for patients with milder COVID-19 cases, since steroids hamper the body's immune system.

    The drug is typically given to patients with severe COVID-19 to prevent an immune system overreaction. Some experts called it a "major breakthrough" for COVID-19 treatment, as it was the first drug shown to improve survival rates.

  2. Remdesivir — President Trump was given his first dose of remdesivir Oct. 2, and he will be given a five-day course, CNN reported. Remdesivir, made by Gilead (who gave it the brand name of Veklury), was granted emergency use authorization by the FDA on May 1 after a study showed it caused a 31 percent faster recovery time compared to a placebo. 

    Remdesivir is an intravenous drug that works by targeting the system coronaviruses use to replicate themselves. It has been previously tested for Ebola, but hasn't been officially approved in any country. The FDA expanded its emergency use authorization for remdesivir Aug. 28, allowing it to be used on all hospitalized patients. It had previously only been authorized for those on ventilators or with low blood oxygen levels.

  3. Regeneron's monoclonal antibody — On Oct. 2, the White House released a letter saying the president received a single 8-gram dose of Regeneron's monoclonal antibody cocktail, called REGN-COV2, the highest dose of the drug being tested in late-stage clinical trials, according to Politico.

    Regeneron said in a Sept. 29 news release that a high dose of the drug caused the level of the virus to decrease in patients in an early clinical trial, indicating it may help COVID-19 patients recover faster. The trial seemed to show the drug had a bigger effect on patients who were infected with the virus but hadn't created high levels of their own antibodies against the virus. The drug uses synthetic versions of the antibodies patients' bodies create when they recover from a disease. In July, Regeneron received $450 million from Operation Warp Speed, the White House's task force to expedite COVID-19 vaccine development, to manufacture thousands of doses of the drug.

    Regeneron CEO Leonard Schleifer, MD, PhD, told The New York Times that President Trump's medical staff reached out to the company for permission to use the drug, and that it was cleared with the FDA. Mr. Schleifer has known the president casually for many years and is a member of his golf club in Westchester County, N.Y., according to the Times.

  4. Zinc — President Trump also has been given zinc, according to the Times, which helps the immune system fight outside bacteria and viruses. Zinc is an essential mineral that is naturally present in some foods and is available as a dietary supplement. There is no evidence that zinc helps fight COVID-19, and the FDA has issued warning letters to some companies that have tried to claim there's a link between zinc products and reduced risk of COVID-19.

  5. Vitamin D — President Trump has been given vitamin D, the Times reported, which is good for bone health. There is no evidence vitamin D directly reduces the risk of COVID-19, and the FDA has sent warning letters to companies trying to sell vitamin D products as COVID-19 treatments. Vitamin D can also help reduce inflammation, according to the National Institutes of Health.

  6. Famotidine — The generic name for Pepcid, famotidine is commonly used to treat ulcers, heartburn, indigestion and reduces the amount of acid in the stomach. A clinical trial testing the drug in hospitalized COVID-19 patients in New York wasn't able to recruit enough patients to properly evaluate its impact, according to Science.

  7. Melatonin — Commonly used to treat insomnia, some studies have suggested that melatonin could also help COVID-19 patients with diabetes and obesity, according to CNN.

    "The ability of melatonin to decrease viral infections in obese and diabetic patients is attributed to its characterists, such as potent antioxidant effects, improving the endogenous antioxidant system, immunomodulatory, and the strong anti-inflammatory capability," according to researchers from Mansoura University in Egypt.

    A health summary for President Trump released in June showed that he was obese, at 244 pounds, the Times reported. 

  8. Aspirin — Commonly given to older patients to prevent heart disease, aspirin is also a popular painkiller. It can reduce the risk of blood-clotting, and evidence has shown COVID-19 can trigger blood clots in some patients. The president has mild heart disease, the Times reported.

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