Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump at the White House on Friday, July 19, 2019.


  • President Donald Trump expressed interest in a new unproven coronavirus treatment — the botanical extract, oleandrin — recommended by HUD Secretary Ben Carson and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, Axios reported Sunday.
  • Lindell told Axios that Trump "basically said: …'The FDA should be approving it,'" regarding oleandrin as a potential treatment for the coronavirus.
  • Researchers found that oleandrin could enhance in cancer therapies due to the way the botanical extract reacts to cells, Axios reported, but there isn't much public data showing oleandrin's effect on patients infected with Covid-19.
  • A senior administration officials expressed concern on Carson and Lindell's "involvement" in recommending the product.
  • "The involvement of the Secretary of HUD and MyPillow.com in pushing a dubious product at the highest levels should give Americans no comfort at night about their health and safety during a raging pandemic," the official told Axios.
  • HUD Secretary Carson, who has expertise in pediatric neurosurgery, serves on the White House coronavirus task force, though his range of knowledge on antiviral drugs is not immediately clear.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

US President Donald Trump is eyeing another unproven coronavirus "cure," at the recommendation of Housing and Urban Development Sec. Ben Carson, Axios reported Sunday.

Oleandrin — a botanical extract from the oleander plant — was suggested to the president by Carson in a meeting in the Oval Office in July, according to the Axios report.

MyPillow founder and CEO Mike Lindell, who's known to have be well-connected with the president, also expressed support for the experimental extract. Lindell also has a financial stake in the company developing the oleandrin product, Phoenix Biotechnology.

Lindell told Axios that Trump "basically said: …'The FDA should be approving it,'" regarding oleandrin as a potential treatment for the coronavirus.

With the help of Lindell, Andrew Whitney, an executive at Phoenix Biotechnology, personally met with the president to discuss the medical effects of oleandrin, The Washington Post reported earlier this month.

In an interview with Axios, Whitney said he stood by his claim that oleandrin "cured" Covid-19 in a span of two days, and he is actively pushing for the botanical extract to make it to shelves — even as a dietary supplement instead of an approved coronavirus treatment to speed up its distribution.

"Now, there are all sorts of lawyers who would tell me I can't say things like that, because you know you need to have years of studies, and you need to have this, that, and the other, and so forth," Whitney told Axios. "But as an American with a right of free expression, I'm telling you, I've seen it with my own eyes."

"There is no public data showing oleandrin has ever been tested in animals or humans for its efficacy against Covid-19," according to the Axios report, "but the extract has shown some evidence of inhibiting the virus in a non-peer reviewed laboratory study."

Whitney told Axios that the product has been tested on humans for its efficacy in treating Covid-19, but the study has not be released yet.

Researchers found that oleandrin could enhance in cancer therapies due to the way the botanical extract reacts to cells, Axios reported, but there isn't much public evidence available testing oleandrin's effect on patients infected with Covid-19.

"Oleandrin looks to have antiviral activity at high doses in a test tube model," Professor Sharon Lewin, director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity at the University of Melbourne, told Axios. "You'd certainly want to see more work done on this before even contemplating a human trial."

A senior administration officials expressed concern on Carson and Lindell's "involvement" in recommending the product.

"The involvement of the Secretary of HUD and MyPillow.com in pushing a dubious product at the highest levels should give Americans no comfort at night about their health and safety during a raging pandemic," the official told Axios.

HUD Secretary Carson, who has expertise in pediatric neurosurgery, serves on the White House coronavirus task force, though his range of knowledge on antiviral drugs is not immediately clear.

A spokesperson for Carson told Axios that the HUD secretary "has been directly involved with the Administration's response to this disease from the very beginning."

"The Task Force is looking at a plethora of therapeutics to fight Covid-19," the spokesperson continued. "To suggest that Secretary Carson, who is a world-renowned expert in the medical field, shouldn't be involved is not only absurd but unhelpful in our collective fight to eradicate the pandemic."

Before oleandrin, Trump has also touted hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug, to treat coronavirus. However, health experts — including the Food and Drug Administration — have advised against using the drug as a treatment. The FDA previously revoked its approval of the drug, citing the "risk of heart rhythm problems" in patients who take the drug to treat Covid-19.

Read the full story at Axios »

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