Aug 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

MyPillow CEO defends promoting unproven COVID-19 "cure"

CNN's Anderson Cooper on Tuesday clashed with MyPillow CEO Michael Lindell, a Trump supporter, for promoting oleandrin, an unproven therapeutic treatment for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Lindell and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson both have financial stakes in the company that develops oleandrin and would profit if the treatment is sold widely. It's part of a pattern in which entrepreneurs, often without rigorous vetting, push unproven products to Trump — knowing their sales pitches might catch his eye, Axios's Jonathan Swan writes.

Of note: When pressed by Cooper, Lindell could not provide details or evidence of a peer-reviewed study he referred to that would support his claims.

What they're saying:

Lindell: "Well, you know, I was contacted on Easter Sunday ... I told the whole country to pray for the answer for this pandemic and this great administration has had me anything I hear out there, whether it be good sanitizers or cures or anything to bring it back to the task force. So this guy called me on Easter Sunday and said he had an answer to the virus and I reached out to my friend Secretary Carson, who's on the task force, and he is a doctor and he looked into it, got everything from the company, and he said this is the real deal. It's been tested by over 1,000 people to be safe..."

Cooper: "Wait a minute, sir. Stop, stop. There's no public peer-reviewed studies about this."

Lindell: "Yeah, there is. Yeah, there is."

Lindell defended his support for the treatment, claiming he's given it to friends and family members and it "saved their lives."

  • "I do what Jesus has me do," he told Cooper.
  • "You think Jesus wants you out here promoting remedies that ... [have] never been tested?" Cooper asked.

Later in the interview, Cooper asked "...How are you different than a snake oil salesman? You have no medical background, there's no evidence of this substance ... it hasn't been tested in animals or humans."

Flashback: Asked about oleandrin Monday, Trump told reporters, “We’ll look at it.” 

  • The president previously touted hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, as a possible coronavirus cure even though it had not been federally approved to treat COVID-19.
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