“I’ll Send You the Contact”: Documents Expose FDA Commissioner’s Personal Interventions on Behalf of Trump’s Favorite Chloroquine Doctor
by Katherine Eban/Vanity Fair
It was Sunday, April 5, and Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, faced a world of problems. Less than two months after the first American death from COVID-19, the U.S. health care system was under siege, with more than 300,000 confirmed cases of the new disease—the most of any nation in the world—and almost 10,000 deaths. Hahn was under fire over faulty test kits the FDA had approved, and angry members of Congress were demanding that his agency prevent the hoarding of an old malaria drug called hydroxychloroquine, which President Trump was hyping without evidence as a miracle cure.
Nevertheless, Dr. Hahn found time that afternoon to carry out an unusual mission. He contacted an obscure family practitioner in Monroe, New York, with whom he had never before been in touch, to ask if the doctor had “time for a quick call.” Once on the phone with Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, Hahn posed a question: How could he—the commissioner of a federal health agency with a $5.7 billion annual budget and the responsibility to safeguard the nation’s drugs, medical devices, and food supply—be of help?