ICYMI: Dr. Oz owns shares of companies that supply hydroxychloroquine, a drug he has backed as a Covid treatment [CNBC]
“Oz’s financial ties to a producer and distributor of the drug, and his promotion of it as a potential Covid treatment, raise questions about what he stood to gain from its wider use during the pandemic.”
Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Republican candidate for Pennsylvania’s open Senate seat, owns stock in Thermo Fisher Scientific, a supplier of the drug hydroxychloroquine, and McKesson, a distributor of the anti-malaria medicine.
Oz backed the use of the drug as a Covid-19 treatment early in the pandemic, and has downplayed warnings about its efficacy as a candidate.
He also pushed the White House to back a study on hydroxychloroquine that he aimed to fund in 2020, according to emails released by a House committee.
Oz’s nonprofit received donations from Sanofi, which previously made the drug.
Republican Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz has financial ties to at least two pharmaceutical companies that supply hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that he has floated as a possible Covid-19 treatment.
Oz […] owns along with his wife at least $615,000 in shares of Thermo Fisher Scientific, according to his financial disclosure. Thermo Fisher Scientific’s website lists hydroxychloroquine sulfate as one of its available products.
Oz and his wife also own between $15,001 and $50,000 in McKesson Corporation stock, according to the disclosure. The company labels and distributes hydroxychloroquine sulfate, according to the FDA.
Oz’s financial ties to a producer and distributor of the drug, and his promotion of it as a potential Covid treatment, raise questions about what he stood to gain from its wider use during the pandemic.
If he wins the Senate election, he could also face conflicts of interest as Congress grapples with a still evolving coronavirus pandemic.
Oz took bold steps early in the pandemic to promote its usage as a treatment.
He urged Trump administration officials in 2020 to back a study he aimed to fund at the Columbia University Medical Center about the effect of hydroxychloroquine on Covid-19 patients, according to emails obtained and released by the House select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis.
Oz also has ties to third company that says it divested hydroxychloroquine from their U.S. portfolio.
Sanofi, which is headquartered in France and previously made hydroxychloroquine, for years supported Oz’s nonprofit, HealthCorps, according to the group’s annual disclosure reports.
Between 2009 and 2018, Sanofi was listed as either a sponsor or in-kind supporter of the Oz-funded group […] In 2013, Sanofi is listed as one of the group’s “school sponsors.” HealthCorps’ website says a school sponsor must donate $100,000 to qualify.
Oz’s ties to companies that would benefit from wider use of hydroxychloroquine could pose issues for the Republican if he wins the Senate seat.
Kedric Payne, an ethics attorney at the Campaign Legal Center, told CNBC in an email that Oz could choose to divest from the companies if he were to defeat Fetterman in November.
“He may be in for a rude awakening if elected because ethics rules could bar him from this activity. Senators cannot use their positions to promote any goods or services that financially benefit them,” Payne said.
Since he launched his campaign late last year, Oz has downplayed warnings by the FDA and other experts against using hydroxychloroquine as a Covid treatment. He suggested political animus against Trump, who endorsed the drug as a treatment and Oz in the Senate election, motivated criticism of the drug as a means to fight Covid.
“Now, let me just say this real quick, I really don’t know if it works or not, we still to this day had not been able to prove if it [hydroxychloroquine] works or not, which is a shame, because we should have known by now if a cheap 70-year-old drug used by a billion people works or not,” Oz said at a campaign rally earlier this year. “But we don’t, which is a problem by itself. However, I mentioned it and then President Trump mentioned it in a press conference, and all of a sudden the entire world hated hydroxychloroquine without testing it, without knowing about it.”
Before he launched his campaign, Oz more explicitly championed hydroxychloroquine.
During a Fox News interview in March 2020 at the height of the pandemic, Oz said that “hydroxychloroquine plays a role” in fighting the virus. A graphic on screen while Oz was being interviewed called the anti-malaria drug “promising” as a Covid-19 treatment option.
Oz also sought the White House’s help in kickstarting the hydroxychloroquine study he hoped to fund at Columbia, where he was once vice chair of the surgery department. He has since said the study never got off the ground.
The Pennsylvania candidate’s communications with White House officials were released by the House select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis last month. In a March 2020 email to former Trump White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx, Oz said he would recruit patients and pay for the hydroxychloroquine trial himself.
Also in March 2020, Oz emailed Trump’s son in law and advisor Jared Kushner that “we must make completion of this study a national priority and insist on immediate enrollment,” according to the correspondence obtained and made public by the House committee. Kushner responded to Oz on the same day, “What do u recommend to speed it up?”
The New York Post reports that Oz spent $8,800 at that time on hydroxychloroquine tablets for the study and offered to spend $250,000.