More Snake Oil?

Oleandrin as a COVID-19 Cure

Once again we have President Donald Trump supporting another “miracle” cure for COVID-19. The “cure” is an extract of oleander flowers, oleandrin. Oleandrin is known to be “a toxic cardiac glycoside found in oleander.”

What is a cardiac glycoside? It is “a class of organic compounds that increase the output force of the heart and increase its rate of contractions by acting on the cellular sodium-potassium ATPase pump. Their beneficial medical uses are as treatments for congestive heart failure and cardiac arrhythmias; however, their relative toxicity prevents them from being widely used.

So, we see that oleandrin contains a toxic substance that isn’t widely used, even though there are some possible benefits for cardiac conditions and cancer. So, why the sudden promotion of oleandrin by the President? I will lay out the path of this “cure” went to reach the President.

A man named Andrew Whitney is our starting point. Mr Whitney is on the board of Phoenix Biotechnology, Inc. Phoenix Biotechnology is a company that is researching cancer treatments from oleander since 2003. So, at some point, Phoenix Biotechnology came to the belief that oleandrin is beneficial to COVID-19 patients. Mr Whitney wanted to bring this “miracle” to the attention of Donald Trump. Mr Whitney got an Oval Office meeting with President Trump, after the intervention of Mike Lindell.

You may recognize Mike Lindell’s name. He is the Minnesota based manufacturer of the “My Pillow.” Mr Lindell also happens to be an ardent supporter of Donald Trump. That’s how Mr Whitney got his foot in the door of the Oval Office. Along with these two salesmen was Ben Carson, HUD Secretary, who also is a believer in oleandrin. Mr Whitney’s goal was to get President Trump to push the FDA to approve oleandrin as a COVID-19 drug.

Yet, not one of these gentlemen has any training or experience with infectious diseases. Ben Carson is well verses in his specialty, pediatric neurosurgery, but zip otherwise. Seems oleandrin comes from a dubious direction. But, that’s never stopped Donald Trump before, why should it now?

Let me make clear, there are no peer reviewed human trial studies of the efficacy of oleandrin on COVID-19. There has been a laboratory study that has shown some evidence of inhibiting the virus, according to an article by Axios. Further, the Axios article reports that Mr Whitney has stated that there were human trials, but the study hasn’t been published yet.

I have no idea if Mr Whitney is telling the truth about human trials since he provided no evidence. Unless he’s speaking to Phoenix Biotechnology work in other areas with oleandrin. It’s just like a snake oil salesman selling a cure for just about anything, which isn’t true. But, Mike Lindell is convinced, so convinced that he invested in Phoenix Biotechnology. If that looks to you that Mike Lindell is operating on a greed level, not an altruistic level. I would agree to the possibility. They stand to clean up nicely if they can get FDA approval.

Now we have Trump considering this new drug. We will have to wait and see if he pushes the FDA to give approval. I hope not, at least until after FDA approved clinical trials have been carried out to prove the worth of the claims by Mr Whitney. The country went down this road before with hydroxychloroquine.

Until then, this is just a pitch to buy snake oil.

Until next time