A Democratic state representative has reached her boiling point when it comes to President Donald Trump and his promotion of a drug that has not been conclusively proven to fight the coronavirus.
Ohio state Rep. Tavia Galonski vowed to refer President Trump to the International Criminal Court for “crimes against humanity” Sunday after his promotion of hydroxychloroquine — a drug often used to treat malaria —- during his now-daily White House media briefing.
The president said Sunday that the drug is “being tested now” as a treatment for COVID-19 and “there are some very strong, powerful signs” it has promise. “But what do I know? I’m not a doctor,” he continued as some of the top medical officials in the nation stood mutely nearby.
“If it does work, it would be a shame we did not do it early,” Trump added.
“I can’t take it anymore. I’ve been to The Hague. I’m making a referral for crimes against humanity tomorrow,” Galonski tweeted right after the April 5 briefing. “Today’s press conference was the last straw. I know the need for a prosecution referral when I see one.”
Galonski, who represents the Akron area, felt certain of her intentions on Sunday evening, but was unsure on how she would follow through with the referral to the International Criminal Court.
“I honestly have no idea,” she told the Capital-Journal Sunday. “But how hard can it be?”
A case within the court begins with a preliminary examination. Each preliminary examination has four phases of analysis: initial, jurisdictional, admissibility, and interest of justice assessments, according to the ICC. The ICC prosecutor may move to a formal investigation if all four of these requirements are satisfied.
Under Trump, the U.S. government has said that it does not intend to cooperate with the ICC and has threatened retaliation against the international court should it choose to investigate U.S. or allied country citizens.
By the next day, Galonski, a former magistrate in the Summit Count Common Pleas Court, told the Beacon Journal she still plans to make the referral to the Information and Evidence Unit in the Office of the Prosecutor of the Netherlands-based court despite the United States’ non-relationship with the ICC.
A hard and electronic copy of the referral — which will also address immigration detention concerns — will be sent to the court along with a petition, she said.
“I want to get their attention and let them know that there are people here that are really worried about this,” Galonski told the newspaper Monday.
Sunday was not the first time that the president recommended the drug. Trump also hyped the drug as part of his March 19 White House news conference, during which he cast the malaria drug as a coronavirus cure, saying the treatment could be a game-changer, despite skepticism from the Food and Drug Administration and top medical officials.
“But it is known as a malaria drug, and it’s been around for a long time and it’s very powerful. But the nice part is, it’s been around for a long time, so we know that if it — if things don’t go as planned, it’s not going to kill anybody,” he said during the news conference.
“When you go with a brand-new drug, you don’t know that that’s going to happen. You have to see and you have to go — long test. But this has been used in different forms — very powerful drug — in different forms. And it’s shown very encouraging — very, very encouraging early results. And we’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately.”
He further pushed his theory via Twitter.
“HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. The FDA has moved mountains – Thank You!” Trump tweeted on March 21.
“Hopefully they will BOTH…be put in use IMMEDIATELY. PEOPLE ARE DYING, MOVE FAST, and GOD BLESS EVERYONE!” he added.
Three days later news broke about an Arizona man who died from ingesting a form of the drug. NBC reported that his wife, who was hospitalized after taking the substance along with her husband, told medical workers at the facility, “Trump kept saying it was basically pretty much a cure.”
Although the aquarium additive the 60-year-old couple ingested is not the same as the medication that has been used to treat malaria, health experts cautioned that there is little reliable evidence for the drug mentioned by the president.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the data is “at best suggestive.”
“You know, as I’ve said many times, Margaret, the data are really just at best suggestive. There have been cases that show there may be an effect — and there are others to show there’s no effect,” Fauci recently said to “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan. “So I think in terms of science, I don’t think we could definitively say it works.”
Experts say hydroxychloroquine is generally considered safe, but side effects of the drug includes nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and skin rashes. Self-medicating is not advised.
During an interview with CNN, Dr. Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association, said she would not prescribe the drug to anyone for COVID-19.
“I would not prescribe it,” she said. “That would be considered inappropriate prescribing, it is not approved by the FDA for COVID-19.”