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Oracle’s Larry Ellison Promoted Antimalarial Drug To Trump: Report

The New York Times pegs the Oracle founder and CTO as among the first to stoke Trump’s interest in an unproven treatment for COVID-19. Ellison is putting Oracle’s might behind building a system to better track the progress of experimental therapies.

Oracle Executive Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison was among the first to raise President Donald Trump’s hopes that an antimalarial drug could be an effective treatment against the novel coronavirus, according to a story published Tuesday in the New York Times.

In a mid-March phone call, Ellison raised the potential for hydroxychloroquine--which is being experimented with, sometimes as part of a pharmacological cocktail--to treat patients stricken by COVID-19, the Times reported.

During a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing on Sunday, Trump urged patients multiple times to ask their doctors to prescribe the unproven therapy--even asking, “what do you have to lose?”

[Related: How Big Was Oracle’s Virtual Walkout Protesting Trump Fundraiser?]

The drug, sold under the brand name Plaquenil, is often prescribed to treat autoimmune disorders like lupus. It can have potentially dangerous side effects, including heart damage.

Medical experts had warned Trump in the White House Situation Room as the task force was meeting not to over-hype the unproven and potentially dangerous therapy, to which Trump replied, “Yes, the heart stuff,” the newspaper reported.

Oracle did not respond to CRN’s inquiry about any discussion between Ellison and Trump around hydroxychloroquine.

The call came weeks after Ellison hosted a fundraiser for Trump at his Rancho Mirage, Calif., home. Supporters paid $100,000 to go golfing with the president at the Porcupine Creek golf club, or $250,000 to also share their thoughts with him on policy at a roundtable, as reported by The Desert Sun, a local newspaper that saw the invitation.

In a recent interview with Forbes, Ellison said he didn’t actually attend the fundraiser, which incited a backlash among some Oracle employees. A group that called itself Employees for Ethics tried to stage a virtual walk-out to protest the boss’ decision to support the president, whose administration they felt was antithetical to Oracle’s Code of Conduct and Ethics.

Ellison told Forbes he called to ask Trump if there was a clearinghouse for all data that was accumulating about the effectiveness of various coronavirus treatments under experimentation. He then offered to put Oracle’s might behind building a system to allow doctors and patients to enter information and better coordinate their efforts in real-time.

So far, Ellison said he has enlisted Oracle engineers to build a database and website registering coronavirus cases, one that will populate with data obtained by sending emails to doctors and patients asking for progress reports on their treatments.

In the Forbes article, Ellison distanced himself slightly from the reports that surfaced of his support for Trump at the time of the Rancho Mirage fundraiser.

Ellison said he never personally gave money to Trump, though he allowed the campaign to use his home as part of a lucrative fundraiser.

“We only have one president at a time,” Ellison explained. “I don’t think he’s the devil—I support him and want him to do well.”

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