US Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz bought thousands of dollars of hydroxychloroquine to try to fund a study into the drug as Donald Trump promoted the anti-malaria medication as a 'game changer' for COVID-19.
Oz, 61, bought 2,070 hydroxychloroquine tablets for $8,800 in March 2020. A spokeswoman for his campaign says they were meant for a study at Columbia University that fell through, the New York Post reports.
At the time, the former talk show host was promoting the drug to his hundreds of thousands of viewers despite little evidence that it did anything for COVID patients.
The purchase coincided with the former president's own interest in the medication. Trump called himself a 'big fan' of the drug even as Dr. Anthony Fauci dismissed it as ineffective.
The World Health Organization does not recommend hydroxychloroquine for the prevention or treatment of coronavirus, citing the risk of heart rhythm problems, blood and lymph disorders, kidney injury and liver failure.
Oz ended his syndicated TV show in January to focus on his run for Senate in Pennsylvania. Trump endorsed the retired doctor at a rally in North Carolina earlier this month.
US Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz bought $8,800 worth of hydroxychloroquine in March 2020, when little was known about the drug's effectiveness in treating COVID-19. Above, Oz at a campaign event on Thursday
The anti-malaria drug is not recommended for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 despite many early prominent supporters, including Oz and former president Donald Trump
Oz bought the $8,800 worth of pills for a study, according to campaign spokeswomanBrittany Yanick.
'At the outset of the pandemic, Dr. Mehmet Oz spoke with health experts worldwide who were seeing hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as viable treatment options for desperately ill COVID patients. He offered to fund the clinical trial at Columbia University,' Yanick told the Post.
She added that he was ready to spend $250,000 on the study, but the offer was rejected and the pills were donated to a hospital, though she didn't say which one.
Columbia University did not immediately respond to questions from DailyMail.com about the alleged study.
He promoted the drug heavily on 'The Dr. Oz Show' in the early days of the pandemic. He mentioned it and chloroquine, a similar drug, during more than 25 appearances on Fox in March and April 2020, according to the New York Times.
After Trump cited a small French study that showed promising results for COVID patients taking hydroxychloroquine, Oz said his 'jaw dropped.'
He changed his tone in late April when a Veterans Affairs study showed that patients who took the drug were more likely to die.
Dr. Oz ended his syndicated talk show in January to focus on his run to replace Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. Above, Oz at CPAC in Orlando on February 27
In March 2020, the Food and Drug administration granted emergency authorization to distribute hydroxychloroquine from theStrategic National Stockpile to hospitals. The authorization was revoked that June.
Trump continued promoting the drug well after the Food and Drug Administration and other organizations associated it with high risks, including 'abnormal heart rhythms such as QT interval prolongation and ventricular tachycardia' and other issues that could increase when combined with other medications, according to an ABC Newstimeline of Trump's position on the anti-malaria drug.
The president even took the drug when he came down with COVID in May 2020. He was still promoting it that August, saying it had 'tremendous support.'
Trump endorsed Oz in his race for the Senate at a rally on April 9.
'Great guy, good man,' he told the crowd in Selma, North Carolina. 'Harvard educated, tremendous, tremendous career.'
Oz brings broad name recognition to a contest that could decide overall control of the Senate in November's midterms - a fact not lost on Trump, who said his 18 years in TV were like winning an opinion poll.
Insiders said the endorsement was Oz's to lose as Melania Trump is a big fan. Oz is on the far right, seen here with the Trumps and Piers Morgan on the left
Conservatives are grumbling over former President Donald Trump's (left) decision to back Dr. Mehmet Oz (right) in the May 17 Republican Senate primary
Human Events'Jack Posobiec, a Pennsylvania native, tweeted out footage of a vintage Dr. Oz episode that focused on transgender children
The Trump endorsement could break a deadlock in the Pennsylvania race.
Oz has been neck and neck with David McCormick, a former hedge fund chief executive, and both had visited Trump in Mar-a-Lago as they vied for the backing of the most powerful voice in the Republican Party.
Some of former Trump's most vocal allies are grumbling over his decision to back Dr. Oz.
Conservatives on Twitter were quick to point out that Oz previously expressed supportfor Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized abortion nationally, and dedicated an episode of his long-running television show to transgender children.
'This is not very conservative, Doc!' commented Jack Posobiec of Human Events, a Pennsylvania native, sharing vintage footage of Oz's episode on transgender kids.