Coronavirus News: New Jersey doctor taking hydroxychloroquine as preventative measure

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- Many medical experts have criticized President Donald Trump for ignoring guidance and prophylactically taking the drug hydroxychloroquine," which he has long touted in the fight against the coronavirus.

There is presently no evidence it works to treat or prevent COVID-19, and some evidence that it could do harm.

President Trump says some doctors have taken the drug on their own, and a local doctor supports that claim and says he's not the only one.

Dr. Stavros Christoudias, who practices in Teaneck, New Jersey, is out of pills now. But he has been taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive tool off and on for two months after it was recommended by an ER doctor and others who stayed healthy.

He said he was operating on a COVID patient four days ago and he doesn't know if he will have an emergency tomorrow.

When asked what he would do if New Jersey raised the restriction, he said he would be the first to try to go get them.

"I'd be the first one to go and refill and make sure I had some moving forward," he said.

He believes hydroxychloroquine only seems to work used early on like TamiFlu, and he says he knows at least 45 other doctors treating COVID patients who have been taking it.

And as we learned this week, President Trump also takes it. But NYU Langone infectious disease expert Dr. Joseph Rahimian remains cautious.

"There is a potential for cardiac abnormalities, abnormal heart rhythm, eye issues," he said.

Also, a patient in Wisconsin who took hydroxychloroquine for almost 20 years still came down with COVID-19.

"It's not a bulletproof vest completely," Dr. Christoudias said. "That's like saying I had a bulletproof vest on but still got shot in the arm, it's not perfect."

He said he knows the FDA has warned about organ damage, but he says the FDA also warns about many drugs and that it is the doctors' job to weigh the good with the bad.

"I don't like the idea that I'm not being allowed to protect myself," he said. "Almost makes me wish that nobody in the political world had ever made any comments about the medication. Just let doctors talk about it."

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