William Cummings, USA TODAY
Published 7:04 p.m. ET Aug. 18, 2020 | Updated 3:09 p.m. ET Aug. 19, 2020
Anderson Cooper ripped into MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for advocating for the use of oleandrin as an unproven treatment for COVID-19.
Anderson Cooper tore into My Pillow founder Mike Lindell for touting an unproven drug as a potential “cure” for COVID-19, calling the prominent supporter of President Donald Trump a “snake oil salesman” in a CNN interview.
Lindell has been advocating for the use of oleandrin, an extract from the oleander plant, as a treatment for the coronavirus. Lindell helped Andrew Whitney of Phoenix Biotechnology land an Oval Office meeting in July where they pitched the drug to Trump, according to reports from The Washington Post, CNN and Axios. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson also attended the meeting, Axios reported.
Lindell, who has a financial stake in Phoenix Biotechnology, told Cooper that he learned about the drug from a friend, who told Lindell he had “answer to the virus.” He said he brought the news to Carson, a neurosurgeon but not an expert in infectious diseases, who declared it to be the “real deal” and brought it to the president.
“This thing works. It’s the miracle of all time,” Lindell told Cooper. After his inability to give specifics on where and when the drug was studied, Lindell told Cooper, “You’re just misconstrued because the media is trying to take away this amazing cure that works for everybody.”
“You have no medical background; you’re not a scientist,” Cooper said. “A guy called you in April, said he had this product. You are now on the board and going to make money from the sale of this product. The reason he reached out to you is because you have the ear of the president, so he gets a meeting with the president, and you stand to make money from this.
“How do you sleep at night?” Cooper asked.
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Whitney and Lindell claimed the drug has proven safe and effective in humans as a coronavirus treatment. But there are no public studies on the drug as a treatment in humans, according to Axios. One study claims the drug can help prevent and treat COVID-19, but the laboratory study was not peer-reviewed.
Lindell told CNN that Trump’s reaction to their pitch was “enthusiastic.”
It would not be the first time Trump has promoted an unproven drug as a coronavirus treatment. He has long advocated for the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat the virus despite repeated statements from his administration’s top public health officials that the drug as not proven effective in treating or preventing COVID-19. Trump even claimed he took the drug himself as a precautionary measure after several White House officials tested positive for the virus.
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When asked about oleandrin as he prepared to leave the White House on Monday, Trump confirmed that he had heard of the drug but denied he pressed the Food and Drug Administration to approve it.
“We’ll look at it. We’ll look it,” Trump said. “We’re looking at a lot of different things.”
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