After the media tried blaming Trump for two people drinking fish tank cleaner, the media then suggested that perhaps the president’s enthusiasm for the drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential panacea against COVID-19 was financially motivated in some way.
On Monday, The New York Times published an embarrassing report about the supposed financial gains the president could make off of hydroxychloroquine based on a minimal investment in one pharmaceutical company that produces the drug, over which he has no control.
“If hydroxychloroquine becomes an accepted treatment, several pharmaceutical companies stand to profit, including shareholders and senior executives with connections to the president,” said the report. “Mr. Trump himself has a small personal financial interest in Sanofi, the French drugmaker that makes Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine.”
Though other left-wing outlets, such as Vox, were more reserved in their reactions to the report, that did not mean that various media pundits and Twitter trolls weren’t going to roll with the idea that President Trump has been promoting a drug against the advice of medical experts just so he can make a cheap buck.
BREAKING: President Trump has a financial interest in the maker of hydroxychloroquine.
In other words, he has been telling Americans to risk their lives an take this drug in order for him to profit.
No, I’m not f—king joking!
— Heidi Krassenstein (@HKrassenstein) April 7, 2020
"If hydroxychloroquine becomes an accepted treatment, several pharmaceutical companies stand to profit, including shareholders and senior executives with connections to the president. Mr. Trump himself has a small personal financial interest in Sanofi." https://t.co/JSmuvM78aC
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 7, 2020
Thankfully, the predominantly left-wing Snopes has stepped in to clear the air a bit by rating this claim “Mostly False,” mainly due to the fact that hydroxychloroquine is a fairly standard drug that various pharmaceutical companies can produce, thereby curtailing its supposed high-profit margins.
From the report:
U.S. President Donald Trump earns some income from three family trusts that are administered independently by J.P. Morgan, an investment bank and wealth-management firm. These trusts are in part invested in mutual funds that themselves are partially invested in companies that produce hydroxychloroquine.
Trump’s financial stake in these companies is virtually negligible – contained indirectly via mutual funds – and administered through three family trusts he does not control. As a generic drug, hydroxychloroquine is unlikely to provide any one company with significant profits compared to other proprietary drugs.
Snopes also expressed puzzlement that the New York Times focused so heavily on President Trump’s small investment in Sanofi – which equals just $2,490 in shares – when he also has limited investments in other pharmaceutical companies that could produce hydroxychloroquine.
“Trump is similarly invested in the pharmaceutical company Novartis via those same funds,” said Snopes. “Novartis manufactures hydroxychloroquine through their generics division Sandoz. Further, Trump – again via these same funds – is invested in several other pharmaceutical companies, too, and each of them could conceivably manufacture the drug as well.”
Trump’s investments in these companies are important to note because it only serves to highlight the fact that the drug is actually not nearly as profitable as some might believe.
“As a generic drug, any qualified company can be approved by the FDA to produce hydroxychloroquine – no single entity, be it Sanofi or Novartis or any other company, has exclusive financial rights to the drug,” continued Snopes. “This limits companies’ abilities to raise its price and means several companies are currently able to produce it. It also means no guarantee exists that any specific company, regardless of Trump’s investment or lack thereof, would necessarily become the major supplier of the drug in the United States.”