Republican Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz has financial ties to at least two pharmaceutical companies that supply hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug he has billed as a Covid-19 treatment- 19 feasible.
Oz, a veteran doctor and TV presenter who is facing Democrat John Fetterman in the race for Pennsylvania’s open Senate seat, owns with his wife at least $615,000 shares of Thermo Fisher Scientific, according to his financial disclosure. Thermo Fisher Scientific’s website list hydroxychloroquine sulfate is one of its available products. It’s unclear when Oz and his wife bought the stock, or if they would own it, because Oz advertised hydroxychloroquine as a Covid treatment early in the pandemic.
Oz and his wife also own between $15,001 and $50,000 in McKesson Corporation stocks, according to the disclosure. hydroxychloroquine sulfate labeling and distribution company, follow for the FDA. It’s also unclear when they bought McKesson stock.
Hydroxychloroquine sulfate is an antimalarial drug commonly known as hydroxychloroquine, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Doctors around the country, spurred in part by endorsements from former President Donald Trump and conservative media figures, have been giving the drug to patients as a Covid treatment despite its potential effective against suspicious viruses.
Oz’s financial relationship with a drug manufacturer and distributor, and his promotion of it as a potential Covid treatment, raises questions about what he must gain from using it. it is more widespread during the pandemic. If he wins the Senate election, he could also face a conflict of interest as Congress grapples with the still-evolving coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement in response to questions from CNBC about Oz’s relationships with companies that make or distribute hydroxychloroquine, including when he and his wife bought shares of Thermo Fisher Scientific, Oz campaign spokesman, Brittany Yanick did not mention the candidate’s finances.
“At the start of the pandemic, Dr. Mehmet Oz spoke with medical professionals worldwide who see hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as possible treatment options for critically ill COVID patients. He offered to fund the clinical trial at Columbia University,” she said.
FDA approved hydroxychloroquine to fight malaria, but warns it has “not been shown to be safe and effective to treat or prevent COVID-19”.. “
Oz took bold early steps during the pandemic to promote its use as a treatment. He urged Trump administration officials in 2020 to support a study he aims to fund at Columbia University Medical Center on the effects of hydroxychloroquine on Covid-19 patients, according to emails issued by the House of Representatives. Selective Institute on the Coronavirus Crisis.
Oz also has ties to a third company that said it sold hydroxychloroquine from its portfolio in the US.
Sanofi, which is headquartered in France and previously made hydroxychloroquine, has for many years supported Oz’s nonprofit, HealthCorps, according to the group’s annual disclosure report. From 2009 to 2018, Sanofi was listed as a sponsor or in-kind supporter for an Oz-sponsored group that advertises itself as helping youth stay healthy and fit. In 2013, Sanofi was listed as one of the group’s “school sponsors”. The HealthCorps website says a school sponsor must donate $100,000 to be eligible.
In April 2020, Sanofi announced it would donate 100 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to 50 countries around the world as studies evaluate the drug’s effectiveness in treating Covid-19.
A spokesperson for Sanofi told CNBC that the company was not involved with Oz’s comments on Covid-19 or hydroxychloroquine. He explained that Sanofi sold hydroxychloroquine from its US portfolio in 2013 and investigated its use at the start of the Covid pandemic as a possible way to fight the virus. Once it is deemed ineffective against Covid-19, the company’s work on it has ceased.
The spokesperson also explained that the company’s last financial contribution to HealthCorps was in 2011. A company representative later corrected himself in an email to CNBC following the publication of this story, and says that 2013, was in fact the last year Sanofi made a financial donation to HealthCorps.
Oz’s relationships with companies that would benefit from the widespread use of hydroxychloroquine could cause problems for Republicans if he wins the Senate seat. Kedric Payne, an ethics attorney at the Campaign Legal Center, told CNBC in an email that Oz could choose to divest from the companies if he beats Fetterman in November.
Payne said: “He could be rudely woken up if elected because codes of ethics might forbid him from participating in this activity. Senators cannot use their position to promote any any goods or services to their advantage”. “Oz may voluntarily divest if elected or stop promoting anything related to its stock.”
A spokesperson for Thermo Fisher Scientific declined to comment. A representative for McKesson did not return a request for comment prior to publication.
Since launching its campaign late last year, Oz has downplayed warnings by the FDA and other experts about the use of hydroxychloroquine as a Covid treatment. He proposed political hostility against Trump, who supported the drug as a treatment, and Oz in the Senate election, fueling criticism of the drug as a means to combat Covid.
“Now let me say this really quickly, I really don’t know if it works or not, we to this day have not been able to prove it works or not.” [hydroxychloroquine] Oz said at a campaign earlier this year whether it works or not, that’s a pity, because we should know if the cheap 70-year-old drug used by a billion people works. at the beginning of this year. t, itself a problem. However, I mentioned it and then President Trump mentioned it in a press conference, and suddenly the whole world hated hydroxychloroquine without testing it, without knowing about it. “
Before launching his campaign, Oz was more explicitly advocating for hydroxychloroquine. In a Fox News interview in March 2020 as the pandemic broke out, Oz said that “hydroxychloroquine plays a role” in fighting the virus. An image on the screen while Oz was being interviewed called the antimalarial drug “promising” as a Covid-19 treatment option.
Oz also sought the White House’s help in launching the hydroxychloroquine research he hopes to fund at Columbia, where he served as deputy chair of the department of surgery. Since then, he says, the research has never taken off.
The Pennsylvania candidate’s communications with White House officials were released by the House’s selection subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis last month. In a March 2020 email With Trump’s former White House coronavirus response coordinator, Deborah Birx, Oz said he would recruit patients and pay for the hydroxychloroquine trial himself.
Also in March 2020, Oz send by email Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner that “we must make the completion of this study a national priority and insist on immediate enrollment,” according to correspondence obtained by the House committee and public. Kushner replied to Oz on the same day, “What would you recommend to increase speed?”
The New York Post reported that Oz spent $8,800 at that time on hydroxychloroquine tablets for research and offered to spend $250,000.
Oz, while campaigning for Pennsylvania’s Senate seat, blamed then-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for pausing research after he was effective. forbidden antimalarial drugs as a treatment for Covid.
Oz’s financial ties could become a bigger issue for him if he wins the Pennsylvania race, one of the few contests that will decide which party controls the Senate next year. A Real Clear Politics median poll showed Fetterman leading Oz by almost 7 percentage points.
Stock ownership in Congress is facing increased scrutiny. Some lawmakers have proposed a ban on individual stock trading in Congress, which would require lawmakers to place assets in a blind trust or divest them entirely.
Business Insider has determined at least 71 lawmakers violated the Congressional Knowledge Stopping Act or the STOCK Act. The law is intended to prevent members of Congress from trading stocks based on inside information obtained from their work as legislators.
However, members of Congress have generally faced some consequences for the lucrative stock trades.