Enter stage left – Oleandrin. To set the scene and also to act as a quick reminder, we have previously had the promotion of Hydroxychloroquine, a COVID-19 “Cure” that really does not work. We have also seen the promotion of the idea that injecting bleach should be “looked into”. Could he possibly learn any lessons from the resulting fallout?
We have the chief executive of My Pillow, a Trump donor, who claims that oleandrin is a miracle cure for Covid-19. Since he is good buddies with Trump, he has been pitching it to him to promote.
To be clear, this is a rather blatant scam, not a cure. There is no evidence that oleandrin is a miracle cure for Covid-19.
What exactly is Oleandrin?
Oleandrin is a toxic cardiac glycoside found in the poisonous plant, oleander.
There is no clinical evidence to support specific doses of oleander. Extreme caution should be used because of its acute cardiotoxicity, hepatotoxicity, and nephrotoxicity.
Oleander is extremely toxic and potentially fatal. Major toxicity reports include disturbances in heart rhythm and death. Signs of toxicity include severe nausea, emesis, abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, hyperkalemia, hypertension, lethargy, hepatotoxicity, and nephrotoxicity. Oleander intoxication can negatively impact the lungs, kidneys, spleen, and muscle tissue. Intoxication can occur from ingestion, or from inhalation of smoke from burned plants.
There are reports of primitive people using this. However they did not use it as medicine, but instead as arrow and dart poisons.
The Pitch to Trump as a COVID-19 Cure?
AXIOS carries the earliest report of this. It was published on Aug 16, 2020. There we learn …
The experimental botanical extract, oleandrin, was promoted to Trump during an Oval Office meeting in July. It’s embraced by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and MyPillow founder and CEO Mike Lindell, a big Trump backer, who recently took a financial stake in the company that develops the product.
- Lindell told Axios that in the meeting, Trump “basically said: …’The FDA should be approving it.'”
Here we have a couple of snake-oil guys rocking up to the White House and successfully selling him a fake cure for COVID-19 that is quite literally lethal.
AXIOS has further insights …
Senior administration officials familiar with the internal conversations around oleandrin have raised concerns about the way this botanical extract — pushed byAndrew Whitney of Phoenix Biotechnology — is being promoted at the highest levels of the Trump administration.
- There is no public data showing oleandrin has ever been tested in animals or humans for its efficacy against COVID-19, but the extract has shown some evidence of inhibiting the virus in a non-peer reviewed laboratory study.
- In an interview on Saturday, Whitney told Axios that oleandrin has been tested on humans for its efficacy against COVID-19 but said the study has not been published yet. He also said the lab study is in the process of being peer reviewed.
Now the truly scary part to all this
If you want to sell medicine, then you need to prove that it works. That involves lots of clinical trials.
However, if you instead sell your “cure” as a dietary supplement, and simply imply it will work without actually explicitly saying it will, then you don’t need to prove anything at all.
Whitney said he is also pushing the FDA to allow oleandrin to be sold off the shelf as a dietary supplement — a move that could be made immediately, Whitney has told administration officials
Oleandrin – The Claim
Whitney claimed to Trump that oleandrin cures COVID-19 in two days …
Whitney said that by “cure” he means the symptoms go away quickly “in the vast majority of cases.”
… and the actual evidence that he has provided that this really is true is …
Oh come now, you can guess.
Yep, you nailed it. Exactly none.
Further Reading on Oleandrin as a supposed COVID-19 “Cure”
- AXIOS, Aug 16, 2020 – Trump eyes new unproven coronavirus “cure”
- The Conversation, Aug 18, 2020 [This is an insight from a medical ethnobotanist] – Oleandrin is a deadly plant poison, not a COVID-19 cure
- New York Times, Aug 20, 2020 – Drug Pitched to Trump for Covid-19 Comes From a Deadly Plant
- Science Based Medicine, Aug 19, 2020 – Oleandra – The New COVID Snake Oil
Lindell comes across as your classic Snake Oil guy from the 1800’s …