All drugs have side effects. It is easy to take sides when reporting on the effectiveness of drugs.

What is true or false in media today? Let me clarify my position before I continue writing this article. I stopped watching and reading any commercial news presentations/newspapers/articles in the late ‘80s. The credibility of a news story is difficult to verify. I want the facts, not opinions.

I gained access to the Internet and discovered that some stories never made it to the American public. Some stories were handpicked, and parts left out. Some stories seemed to have a different slant or interpretation of what I had read or seen earlier.

I know the news media thrives on fear – it sells! I know that media thrives on political views. I read headlines nowadays and rarely read further than the first paragraph unless I am doing some research for one of my articles. One of the current news headlines is about the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine. Allow me to create the acronym HXQ to make it easier to type and read.

There are several headlines telling the public that HXQ is doing more harm than good. For instance, a CNN headline today states, “Large study finds hydroxychloroquine Covid-19 treatments linked to a greater risk of death and heart arrhythmia.” The Guardian has the following headline, “Hydroxychloroquine: Trump’s Covid-19 ‘cure’ increases deaths, global study finds.”

Yet, the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents in a March 20, 2010 study reported, “This provides evidence that hydroxychloroquine does not apparently treat patients with COVID 19,” said Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious disease specialist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Even worse, there were side effects caused by the drug — heart toxicities that required it be discontinued.”

This last study doctors looked at CVOID-19 patients who had pneumonia and required supplemental oxygen. Half of the patients had taken HXQ within 48 hours of hospital admission and the other half did not take HXQ. The doctors were unable to statistically say one group survived better than the other or that the death rate of one group was better or worse than the other.

The study did state that there were concerns for some patients who developed abnormal heart rhythms. HDX had side effects like every prescription drug. HDX can cause vision changes or damage the retina, heart rhythm disorder, diabetes, stomach disorders, and allergy to quinine, liver disease, kidney disease, psoriasis, alcoholism, and more. Sweden and Brazil have studies reporting similar heart problems from the drug chloroquine.

Another ‘new’ study showed that 2.8% of the patients who took HXQ died and 4.6% of the patients who did not take it died. Not quite twice as many deaths, but the CNN Health’s weekly newsletter with Dr. Sanjay Gupta stated, “These results do not support the use of [hydroxychloroquine] in patients hospitalized for documented SARSCoV-2-positive hypoxic pneumonia.”

France was one of the first countries to use DXQ with great results. A March 20, 2020 study led by Didier Raoult, MD, Ph.D., reported “a significant reduction in the viral load (83% patients had negative results on quantitative polymerase chain reaction testing at day 7, and 93% had negative results on day 8)”. There was a “clinical improvement compared to the natural progression.” One death occurred, and three patients were transferred to intensive care units.

This study represented 80 patients and did not have typical study controls to make more definitive statements. However, a larger French study with over a thousand COVID-19 patients had the following conclusion, “Administration of the HCQ+AZ combination before COVID-19 complications occur is safe and associated with a very low fatality rate in patients.” (HXQ = HCQ and AZ = azithromycin)

There are news stories telling us how bad HXQ is. There are news stories telling us how well HXQ helped patients survive. We did not hear from these ‘bad’ stories if conditions of age, pre-existing conditions, and severity of COVID-19 impacted the doctors’ decisions to use HXQ.

Statistics can be used in a myriad of ways. We need the details to determine what aspects of a test or study was used to figure the results to report.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –


2 Responses

  1. Red, as you know I am 71, and some of the finer details I read slip away from me. In this case it is the sourcing, but I believe it was last weekend’s Time Magazine. Extensive investigation and including a very detailed interview of Dr Rault Didier was published last week. I will try to dig up the sourcing but it was a highly respectable source.
    Dr Didier is a very learned man. However, Dr Didier is more about Dr. Didier and attention to himself than he is about credibility and reality. His ego has come 1st for years and both the French medical and academic communities and the more broad European medical and academic communities see him this way. The same traits came out in the published interview.
    You have openly stated that you pay no attention to major mass media since the 1980’s, and you have a healthy skepticism as to what is reliable information they publish and what is not. I respect your doubt and perhaps even that you may have touch of cynicism about what is published and broadcast by “major news outlets”.

    But what if a major news outlet published a verified, credible report by The Lancet, one of the world’s top two journals of medicine relied on by medical communities everywhere? What if a report of well verified information says that in a retrospective study of medical records 96,000 hospitalized COVID-19 diagnosed patients on 6 continents, those patients had “a significantly higher risk of death compared to those who did not”?
    The study also concluded that those treated with HDX or Chloroquine were also “more likely to develop a type of irregular heart rhythm, or arrhythmia, that can lead to sudden cardiac death”.

    The study was published a week ago yesterday (Friday). It is the largest to date of a picture of the risks AND benefits of treating COVID-19 patients with anti-malarial drugs.

    The story published in the Houston Chronicle was authored and published by the Washington Post. The story is way too long to quote from here. It is VERY detailed regarding the study, other studies, and commentary from other highly regarded medical experts from places like Brigham and Women’s in Boston, the Cleveland Clinic, Georgetown University, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Scripps Research Translational Institute and others.

    One study noted was NYU’s Langone Health, where hospitalized patients were given hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin. The treated group had a higher rate of survival. However, the researchers behind the study are now saying the study was seeking an answer to whether added hydroxychloroquine would “enhance” the anti viral effects of supplemental zinc. The researchers in that study are now saying the findings reported were tentative, and could have been due to factors other than the drugs, because the zinc was added much later in the pandemic, when hospital treatments and procedures had been refined.

    While no one has all the answers, I have a couple of bottom lines here.
    1. There is little to no solid evidence based on massive controlled studies that these drugs are beneficial to patients infected with COVID-19. There is ample evidence that the combination of the anti-malarial with the antibiotic causes dangerous heart arrhythmia. This is a serious negative and potentially very dangerous to older patients who otherwise might have a better chance at recovery.
    2. There seems to be a big concern in our nation that the vast majority of major publishers and mass media entities deliberately and maliciously do not have the health, safety, and welfare of Americans at heart.

    The internet has become a vast, unregulated, uncontrolled channel to almost everyone that can allow anyone to write and publish ANYTHING without any vetting, any editorial supervision for accuracy, or anything else. It is a good reason why a misguided soul walked onto Comet Ping Pong and Pizza in Washington a couple of years ago, armed with what I recollect was an AR-15, threatened patrons with his firearm, charged past patrons and employees to a door he thought led to the basement, fired a shot at the lock, and went searching for mythical molested children supposedly kidnapped by Hillary and Bill Clinton and locked up beneath this pizza joint. Where did this fool get his information? From some malicious article posted on the internet. Fortunately no one was injured and Washington Metro Police took him into custody. (The pizza place is up Connecticut Av 4 blocks from where my son lived while a student at American University).

    I have a degree in mass communications/radio and television. My late father’s best college friend was a war correspondent in WWII for International News Service (which became UPI wire service). He later became VP for Public Information for NBC Television. I knew him well. He had the highest of journalistic standards, and in retirement was appointed by President Ford to head the US Bicentennial Commission. My college broadcast journalism Professior, Richard Yoakam had been David Brinkley’s producer in Washington prior to 1962. His knowledge of honorable journalistic standards was beyond reproach. My cousin’s husband, Wesley Hasden, worked his entire career for Ruth Holmberg, daughter of Arthur Hays Sulzberger. She was publisher of the Chattanooga Times, owned by the NY Times. The thing all these people and their successors have in common is VERY high journalistic standards. I have had the pleasure of meeting and coming to know many successors who work in broadcast and print journalism since then and even today. Most retain those very high standards. (One of my goals is to make the acquaintance of 30 something year old Klein High School and UT Austin grad Garrett Haike. Garrett is an outstanding, award winning, objective journalist. He is a Congressional Correspondent for NBC News and a truly top-notch reporter. He does not do opinion journalism.)

    I worked in tv broadcasting on the business side for 12 years and held a Vice President title for a major broadcast group owner. I know and understand the desire and pressure to produce and publish ACCURRATE news stories.
    The tv and publishing business became far more commercialized from 1980 forward for various legitimate economic reasons. Bottom line pressure is immense. But the pressure to get the story rapidly AND ACCURATELY is huge. It is not a whole lot different than the famous dilemma faced by the late Ben Bradlee and Katherine Graham of the Washington Post in 1973 who put it all on the line against a very powerful President, whose actions and whose lackies, when the story was published accurately, triggered events that justly brought down a presidency and sent dozens to prison, including a corrupt Attorney General.

    Jefferson and Madison supported Freedom of the Press in the 1st Amendment. Our Founders felt that the purpose of a responsible free and open press is to be a watchdog on the government. In a Republic, we the people cannot all personally be in the Halls of Congress and in the press room of the White House.
    We have to rely on the Press to do that for us. It is not the job of the Press to be a cheerleader of government and publish only “good news”.
    Newspapers and major tv and cable networks have invested billions of dollars to report the news. Most have no ulterior motive that would motivate them to deliberately lie (with one major exception that I will not discuss here.) They are mostly publicly traded companies that cannot afford to “get it wrong.”

    My point in my comments about major journalism is there is a vast wealth of knowledge and facts out there. Is there propaganda? Yep. Particularly from one major source. Do journalists get it wrong? Sometimes. Humans make mistakes.
    But there are a lot of facts out there that one is blind to if one relies only on unvetted internet sources where there are no journalistic standards or brakes on publishing propaganda.

    And when life and death are at stake, it is even MORE important to carefully vet information before publishing. Lots of politicians have political agendas and work hard to go around those institutions who would vet before publishing. (Can you say “tweet?”

    I’d be the last one who’d want to inhibit someone’s freedom of speech. But in a free society, a society can only remain free if it has reliable, truthful information.

    As Ben Franklin said to a woman on the street in Philadelphia when she quizzed him on what came out of the 2nd Continental Congress: “A democracy, madam, if you can keep it.”

    1. Roy, I always, sincerely, always appreciate rebuttal for my posts. I see things a certain way and others see them differently. Your points are interesting and well taken. Thanks! I appreciate the time and detail you took to respond. I welcome future comments and critiques, especially if we have a difference of opinion on my posts. Thanks again, Roy!

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