It’s a well-established phenomenon with its own name: V.I.P. Syndrome. Wealthy and well-known patients often have easy access to the most cutting-edge medical treatments. Taking care of high-profile personalities can put physicians under added public pressure, increasing the incentive to try out highly touted new medicines and procedures.

The aggressive embrace of exotic and unproven therapies can be a double-edged sword if it leads doctors to bypass standard care. Disease has no regard for prestige or political power. Experimental treatments often don’t hold up with more time and study. Still, the temptation to take every available measure is strong…

The idea that doing something is better than inaction is a pervasive myth in medicine, said Vinay Prasad, associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. More than 90% of people recover from Covid-19 without doing anything, he said.

“From the point of view of what’s best for his health, it’s bad medicine,” Prasad said. “The reason we do the studies in the first place is we don’t know if the drugs work, let alone when they are given with other drugs that haven’t been proven.”