New questions have emerged over the circumstances in which Donald Trump was given an experimental antibody drug cocktail produced by a golfing acquaintance to treat his coronavirus infection.
As Trump wrongly hailed his treatment – which included a drug called REGN-COV2 produced by Regeneron – as a “cure”, it emerged that the company’s chief executive, Leonard Schleiffer, is a member of the Trump National golf club in Briarcliff Manor, New York, and had met the president in May to talk about drugs his company was developing.
While some ethicists have defended Trump’s privileged access as president to experimental treatments, others have suggested it raises questions of fairness among other concerns, including Trump’s history of touting unproven treatments.
Trump’s relationship with Schleiffer, whom he reportedly calls “Lenny”, adds to growing questions over Trump’s almost exclusive access to experimental treatments unavailable to most other Americans, even as the president has continued to downplay the threat of coronavirus based on his own experience.
The price of stocks in Regeneron – which Trump has owned in the past – soared after it was revealed the drug had been made available for his treatment and Trump stated it would be made freely available for all, although he didn’t explain how.
“I call that a cure,” Trump said in a video, adding that everyone should have access to the not-yet-approved drug for “free” and that he would make sure it was in every hospital as soon as possible.
After his comments, Regeneron announced it had applied to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for an emergency use authorization.
“Under our agreement with the US government for the initial doses of REGN-COV2, if an EUA is granted the government has committed to making these doses available to the American people at no cost and would be responsible for their distribution,” the company said in a statement.