A photo of a pill bottle with former President Barack Obama‘s name on it has gone viral on Twitter and other social media sites. Mark Levin shared the photo on Twitter and wrote “Obama’s hydroxychloroquine from 2008.” Levin is an American lawyer, radio personality and author of the book Unfreedom of the Press.
Hydroxychloroquine is an antimalarial medication that has been researched as a potential coronavirus treatment, though the FDA cautions against its use for that purpose. However, the status that Levin wrote to accompany the photo is inaccurate. The photo is actually of a prescription for Malarone, a different anti-malaria drug.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Pill Bottle Photo Is for Malarone, Not Hydroxychloroquine
Levin shared the photo on Twitter on July 10. It has since gone viral.
In an interview on The Mark Levin Show that day, Rick Harrison of the History channel show Pawn Stars told Levin that in July 2008, when Obama was running for president, “… he was taking anti-malaria drugs. Um, he … took his last pill I guess, threw the bottle in the trash of the hotel room, and once you throw something in the trash, you know, it’s open game for anybody.” He said the maid picked it out of the trash and three years later brought it to Harrison’s pawn shop and sold it to him. In the interview, Harrison claimed the drug is “almost the exact same thing” as hydroxychloroquine and that Obama was taking it as a “prophylaxis.”
Levin’s tweet included an inaccurate description that reads: “Obama’s hydroxychloroquine from 2008.” However, the photo of the prescription bottle shows the drug was actually Malarone, which WebMD indicates is prescribed “to prevent and treat malaria.”
Levin shared the same photo and caption on Facebook.
Malarone (atovaquone and proguanil) interferes with the growth of parasites in the red blood cells and is used to treat or prevent malaria. According to WebMD, it has a lot of potential side effects, including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, headache, dizziness, diarrhea and less frequently liver problems, anemia and other issues.
According to the CDC, this drug is good for last-minute travelers to prevent malaria, but it can’t be taken by people with severe renal problems or who are pregnant. It must be taken daily and is more expensive than some other options. Other antimalarial drugs include chloroquine, doxycycline, mefloquine, primaquine and tafenoquine.
Obama Traveled to Afghanistan Shortly After the Date on the Photo
The bottle in the photo appears to be labeled July 10, 2008. If it is authentic, the prescription would have been given about a week or so before Obama visited Afghanistan, which “has the world’s third-highest malaria burden,” according to the World Health Organization. On July 20, 2008, The New York Times reported about Obama’s foreign tour there, saying that he had arrived on Saturday to meet with American troops and military leaders in the region. He was also visiting Iraq, Israel and Western Europe during that trip.
In 2014, The New York Times reported that Obama had gone to a military hospital for tests after having a sore throat. Doctors diagnosed the sore throat as a symptom of acid reflux. The same article also mentioned that Obama had been prescribed Malarone before a visit to Myanmar the month before and was no longer on the medication. The article noted that he suffered no side effects.
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