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Trump says he's looking at unproven Covid-19 therapeutic
02:43 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

President Donald Trump and Mike Lindell, the creator of MyPillow and an avowed supporter, participated in a July meeting at the White House regarding the use of oleandrin as a potential therapeutic for coronavirus, Lindell confirmed to CNN.

Oleandrin is an extract from the plant Nerium oleander. The raw oleander plant is highly toxic, and consumption of it can be fatal.

He described the President’s response toward the extract as “enthusiastic.”

“He was enthusiastic, as he is on everything that’s going to help people,” he told CNN, adding that Trump wanted the Food and Drug Administration to “do its course.”

Trump confirmed he’s “heard about” oleandrin when asked Monday on the White House South Lawn, but still seemed to be in an information-gathering phase.

“Is it something people are talking about very strongly?” he asked the reporter.

“We’ll look at it, we’ll look at it, we’re looking at a lot of different things. I will say the FDA has been great. They are very close. We’re very close to a vaccine. Very close to a therapeutic. I have heard that name mentioned, we’ll find out,” the President said.

it’s unclear whether he’s raised it with the FDA. A task force member told CNN this has never been brought up during a task force meeting – even those attended by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who is a member of the White House coronavirus task force, with whom Lindell said he shared brought his findings.

“I brought this to Secretary Carson and he did his due diligence and was just amazed. He said it was very exciting seeing all the data,” he said.

The Washington Post first reported the oleandrin push.

The President has been known to embrace and promote unscientific approaches to the coronavirus. He previously said he took daily doses of hydroxychloroquine, a drug he’s long touted as a potential coronavirus cure even as medical experts and the FDA question its efficacy and warn of potentially harmful side effects.

Last week, Lindell was added to the board of Phoenix Biotechnology, which makes oleandrin, and received a financial stake in the company.

“The reason I did that, I want this to get to the public so bad and I want to get it out there to help people,” he said.

Oleandrin has not been approved by the FDA. The agency generally does not approve dietary supplements, but says it’s the company’s responsibility to make sure its products are safe and claims are true. FDA has gone after hundreds of products for making false claims about diagnosing, preventing or treating Covid-19.

The FDA did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment. The White House declined to comment on the record, but a Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said Trump supports “safe and effective” treatments.

“I’m quite certain the President strongly supports every possible safe and effective COVID treatment. As always, let’s see where the trials take us,” said Michael Caputo, the HHS spokesman.

Lindell said the supplement didn’t come up when he had a subsequent meeting with Trump on advertising.

Lindell, who hails from the Minneapolis area, is the chairman of the Minnesota Trump campaign and makes frequent appearances on Trump’s behalf. He is planning to attend the President’s remarks in Mankato later Monday and wasn’t sure if he would be meeting with the President while he was in town. He is “very much” thinking about pursuing a run for office, as he originally told CNN in 2018.

The MyPillow creator said he receives numerous pitches for personal protective equipment and therapeutics, first heard about oleandrin when he was contacted by Phoenix Biotechnology’s Andrew Whitney on Easter Sunday.

Lindell said he did his own due diligence and research, citing studies from the University of Texas and Fort Detrick in Maryland, calling his findings “so exciting.” He has taken the extract as a prophylactic himself and has encouraged friends and family to do the same.

No studies involving oleandrin and Covid-19 have been published in peer-reviewed medical journals, and there’s no public information to show oleandrin has been tested in Covid-19 patients. One pre-print study, which hasn’t been peer-reviewed or published, found the extract had antiviral effects against Covid-19 in cells in the lab. Two of the study’s authors are employed by Phoenix Biotechnology.

Lindell expressed frustration that the FDA has yet to approve oleandrin for either the dietary supplement list or an Investigational New Drug Application (IND) number.

CNN’s Jamie Gumbrecht, Kristen Holmes and Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.