CNN: Feds charge doctor who cited Trump to push hydroxychloroquine "miracle cure"

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It was described as the "magic bullet" to protect against the deadly coronavirus -- a "remarkable clinical phenomenon" that could cure the disease within hours.

In the words of San Diego physician Jennings Staley, the drug hydroxychloroquine, approved to treat conditions ranging from malaria to lupus, was "almost too good to be true."

On his website advertising the product, Staley -- whose practice includes Botox injections, tattoo removal, oxygen therapy, and fat transfer -- cited President Donald Trump's recent promotion of a French study claiming hydroxychloroquine had overwhelmingly positive results in the fight against Covid-19, according to federal prosecutors.
According to federal authorities, comments by the Southern California doctor about the drug's remarkable capabilities were recorded during a phone call with a concerned father of three, who contacted Staley inquiring how he could protect his family from contracting Covid-19.

In reality, the man on the other end of the line was an undercover FBI agent conducting an investigation into possible health care fraud.
In an advertising email message reviewed by the FBI, Staley's purported medical package included dosages of hydroxychloroquine, antibacterial drug Azithromycin, antianxiety treatments, intravenous drips, and the use of a medical hyperbaric oxygen chamber. Staley offered to sell the items as a family pack for $3,995, according to the criminal complaint.

During the recorded phone call with an FBI agent posing as a customer, Staley indicated the drug hydroxychloroquine "cures the disease" associated with coronavirus, according to the complaint.

Staley also told the agent he had received a tank of hydroxychloroquine that had been smuggled out of China. He said he was able to trick US Customs and Border Protection by listing the material as sweet potato extract, according to the complaint.

At one point, the undercover agent asked Staley, "If I'm hearing you right, if I buy these kits from you, then that's going to pretty much guarantee that neither my kids, my dad, my wife -- any of us -- get sick. And if we are, it's going to cure us, right?"
"Guaranteed," Staley replied, according to the complaint.
In a follow-up call, the doctor allegedly told the undercover FBI agent he would also sell him Viagra and Xanax, a Category IV controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. A package containing the medication was received by the FBI on April 9.

In the criminal complaint, an FBI agent said Staley's sale of Xanax during the undercover operation suggests he "is routinely distributing this controlled substance without any sort of medical examination or demonstration of need."
The day after receiving the box of medication, FBI agents overtly visited Staley's office for an interview but did not indicate they had previously communicated with him as part of their undercover investigation. According to the criminal complaint, the agents asked Staley if he had ever guaranteed his patients that hydroxychloroquine was a cure for Covid-19.

"No, that would be foolish," Staley said, according to the FBI, adding "We would never say anything like that."

 
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