Ben Carson Says He Took Oleandrin, An FDA-Rejected Supplement Touted By MyPillow Founder, As Coronavirus Treatment

Topline

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and member of the White House coronavirus task force, told the Washington Post he used an unproven medical treatment recommended by the Trump-supporting founder of MyPillow when he had coronavirus, though the Food and Drug Administration rejected its use as a supplement in September.

Key Facts

Carson said he took Oleandrin after hearing about it from MyPillow founder Mike Lindell who is on the board of Phoenix Biotechnology, the company that manufactures the supplement and has a financial stake, according to multiple reports.

Carson said his coronavirus symptoms “disappeared” within hours of taking the supplement.

Key Background

When the FDA rejected Phoenix Biotechnology’s application, the agency said the company did not provide enough evidence that it is safe. There are not any peer-reviewed studies showing it is an effective coronavirus treatment. The U.S. Army Institute of Infectious Diseases discontinued testing Oleandrin in August. Spokesperson Lori Salvatore told Forbes the supplement went through “multiple iterations” of a test to see if it was effective at treating the virus and the tests were “inconclusive.”

Tangent

Lindell has been touting the oleander extract for months and told Axios he, Carson, Phoenix Biotechnology executive Andrew Whitney and at least one lawyer spoke to President Trump and briefly Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the Oval Office in July and claimed Trump “basically” said the FDA should approve its use. Carson, who is a friend of Lindell, had promoted the supplement to White House staff and the president, according to Axios. When asked why Carson was promoting Oleandrin, a spokesperson didn’t deny it and said Carson and other members of the coronavirus task force were looking at multiple therapeutics. Carson in August told Good Morning America he was at the Oval Office meeting, but said it shouldn’t be promoted as a coronavirus treatment until there are clinical trials and it is approved by the FDA. Dr. Matthew Heinz, an internist who has treated coronavirus patients and worked at a poison control center, told Good Morning America the plant used to make Oleandrin is dangerous and can be deadly even if a small amount is ingested. Earlier that month, Lindell promoted Oleandrin as a “miracle to the country” on CNN and claimed it had been tested in at least one human trial, but didn’t provide the specifics. CNN host Anderson Cooper called him a “snake-oil salesman” for pushing the treatment and claimed money was his motive.

Further Reading

All the president’s ‘Guys’ (Washington Post)

Trump eyes new unproven coronavirus “cure” (Axios)

FDA Rejects Oleandrin, Extract Pushed By MyPillow CEO, As A Dietary Supplement (Forbes)

U.S. Army Halted Tests On Oleandrin, A Drug Touted To Trump As Covid-19 Cure By MyPillow CEO Lindell (Forbes)

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