Tuesday, April 07, 2020


This is the sixth paragraph of a New York Times story on President Trump's advocacy of hydroxychloroquine, and a lot of people think the Times buried the lede:
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, the French drugmaker that makes Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine.
However, Walter Shaub -- the former director of the federal Office of Government Ethics, who has been a fierce critic of the president -- is willing to let him slide on this:

Fifteen hundred bucks? If this is grifting, it's grifting at a pathetically low level.

This makes much more sense:

It’s unclear why Trump has been such a proponent of hydroxychloroquine, but one answer may lie with the millions of dollars in political support he has received from the founder of a pharmaceutical industry-funded group that has been pushing him to make the drug available.

On March 26, Job Creators Network, a conservative dark money nonprofit, launched a petition, a series of Facebook ads, and a blast text message campaign calling on Trump to “cut the red tape” and immediately make hydroxychloroquine available to treat patients....

The Job Creators Network was founded in 2011 by billionaire Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus, a major GOP donor who spent more than $7 million through outside groups to help elect Trump in 2016. Marcus has said that he plans to spend part of his fortune to help re-elect Trump in 2020.

Job Creators Network has been funded by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a drug industry trade that counts among its members leading hydroxychloroquine makers Novartis, Teva Pharmaceuticals, and Bayer. According to tax documents, PhRMA donated $500,000 to Job Creators Network in 2017.

Novartis, Teva, and Bayer have all committed to providing millions of doses of hydroxychloroquine for clinical testing, and the companies potentially stand to profit if the drug becomes adopted as a common coronavirus treatment.
That's not Trump lining his pockets. That's Trump being a bog-standard bootlicking Republican officeholder, someone who'll do anything for the people who finance his campaign, in the expectation of no reward other than more money to run for reelection. Besides, I think profiteering is completely outside his skill set.

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