Inside the administration, as the White House cobbled together a plan to make chloroquine drugs widely available to the American public, Trump’s political appointees began exerting tremendous and unwelcome pressure upon career health officials. As part of the plan, Oracle, the technology company co-founded by billionaire Trump fundraiser Larry Ellison, designed and built an app to collect data from physicians and patients tracking the response to various experimental treatments for COVID-19. (A source familiar with Oracle’s app called it “an information collector; it does not recommend therapies or treatment plans.”)
Under the plan, which set off alarm bells within the health agencies, chloroquine drugs would be available to patients through pharmacies, not just to hospitalized patients. “There wasn’t a plan for physician oversight or monitoring,” one federal official told Vanity Fair. “That’s what concerned clinicians the most. Career FDA, NIH, CDC, and BARDA [personnel] were all very concerned about lack of physician oversight or adverse event monitoring with the expanded-access program.”
On the evening of March 23, the FDA’s chief counsel, Stacy Amin, emailed lawyers and other officials within HHS, the National Institutes of Health, and the FDA, urging action to set the plan in motion.