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The unproven claim that an antimalarial drug can cure coronavirus – called a “game changer” and a “gift from God” by Donald Trump – was promoted by a cryptocurrency lawyer who made a series of false allegations, DailyMail.com may reveal.
Gregory Rigano has made a series of Fox News and conservative and Christian radio appearances to extol the idea that chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine “cures” the conronavirus.
The antimalarial drug is now in a series of clinical trials, including in New York, where the state received 10,000 doses.
He has been praised several times by Trump – but the first time he did so, in the White House last Friday, epidemiologist Tony Fauci intervened to warn that it was not scientifically proven that he was efficient and safe.
Trump further boosted the drug case on Twitter Monday amid apparent public tensions with Fauci.
Now a DailyMail.com survey reveals how:
- Rigano wrongly claimed to be an adviser to Stanford University School of Medicine;
- He also wrongly claimed to have consulted the University of Alabama at Birmingham;
- The Google document he used to promote his claims was deleted by Google after it was formatted to look like a scientific document when it was not;
- Other academics and apparent supporters of the original Google document claims said they had nothing to do with it;
- He created an LLC in mid-February;
- Rigano had previously created a cryptocurrency business which he said was “designed to deceive death”;
- He also tried to find funds to “cure aging”, “end Alzheimer’s disease”, “live forever” and “cure cancer”.
- Did not correct a television interviewer who repeatedly called him “doctor”;
- Recruited a doctor for “trials” who is a serial entrepreneur whose other plans include a “personalized nutrition engine”.
DailyMail.com made several attempts to contact Rigano, a 34-year-old lawyer from Melville, Long Island, who mentioned in his resume that he was an Eagle Scout.
He uses his parents’ house as an address on public documents.
Rigano first touted the use of chloroquine on Monday, March 13, posting a document on Google that was presented to look like a scientific document, but is not and that Google has now deleted because it violates its conditions of use.
It was written by Rigano and James Todaro, a former ophthalmologist from Dearborn, Michigan, who became an investor in cryptocurrency.
Chloroquine defender: Gregory Rigano said he was working “in consultation with the Stanford University School of Medicine” while making a series of appearances at Fox News – but he is not
Looks like a scientific article: this is the Google document that Rigano published but which contains a series of false allegations, including the involvement of Stanford and the University of Alabama in Birmingham medical schools
Big boost: Elon Musk tweeted Rigano’s 32.7 million followers document, earning him a huge readership – but Musk didn’t know the false statements in the document
Removed: Rigano’s original Google document he used to push chloroquine has been removed by Google. Its terms of service include provisions on false declarations
“Game changer”, “miracle” and “gift of God”. Donald Trump touted the use of chloroquine several times in the days following Greg Rigano’s appearance in a series of new Fox shows to promote the drug as a “cure” for coronavirus – with support from false claims that he was a Stanford researcher
He claimed to be “in consultation with the Stanford University School of Medicine, UAB [University of Alabama at Birmingham] School of Medicine and Researchers at the National Academy of Sciences. “
Rigano used a Johns Hopkins email address in the document, although his own LinkedIn profile indicates that he is a student and not a faculty member. DailyMail.com contacted the college to verify its enrollment status.
The text was in the format that would follow a scientific article and included drawings of the structure of the chemical structure of chloroquine.
At the bottom of the text, it says: “Special thanks to the Stanford University School of Medicine, to the translational research program SPARK, to Steve Schow, PhD, to the laboratory of Louise T. Chow, PhD and to Thomas R. Broker, PhD , Bruce Bloom DDS, JD of HealX and Adrian Bye. ‘
However, DailyMail.com may disclose that the document was not scientific – and that all of the academics and institutions mentioned in it have requested to be disassociated from it.
These include Stanford University, which said it and its SPARK unit asked to be removed from the document.
Rigano also described himself as an “advisor” at the Stanford School of Medicine.
But Julie Greicius, senior director of external communications at Stanford, said, “Stanford Medicine, including SPARK, was not involved in the creation of the Google document, and we asked the author to remove all references to we.
“In addition, Gregory Rigano is not an advisor to the Stanford School of Medicine and no one at Stanford was involved in the study. “
When asked if Professor Steve Schow, Stanford adjunct professor of chemical systems biology, thanked in the document, had any involvement, Greicuis replied no.
First appearance: Gregory Rigano’s initial Fox News ad was on Laura Ingraham, hours after Elon Musk tweeted his claims
Bogus: When Greg Rigano appeared on Fox Business Network, he introduced himself as part of Stanford University School of Medicine – which he is not – and did not correct the anchor Stuart Varney who called him three times “doctor”
Again: Rigano appeared on Fox News with Tucker Carlson and was again presented as being an “advisor” to Stanford, which he is not
Count on us: Professor Thomas Broker, who was named in the “white paper” before his removal from Google, asked that his name be dissociated from it, while the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where it works, said the lab of the Nobel laureate, Dr. Louise Chow, was also involved was fake
The University of Alabama at Birmingham also said it had no involvement in the Google document.
Professor Broker, whose document bears the name, requested that his name be removed, while the university’s director of public relations, Bob Shepard, added that Dr Chow, Nobel laureate mentioned in the acknowledgments, was not part of the study.
“No one at UAB has any connection to this document,” said Shepard.
Shepard said that Broker “has already researched chloroquine as a possible therapy for the human papillomavirus”, which is more commonly known as HPV.
Shepard said, “He had contact with one of the authors of this document at the time. He has had no involvement in the work on the coronavirus and is not affiliated with any of this research. “
OTHER RIGANO PROJECTS SEARCHING FOR MONEY TO BE FINANCED
On the website of its cryptocurrency company, Rigano also sought funding for:
End Alzheimer’s disease, stop neurodegeneration: ask for less than $ 1 million
Reused drug combination for pancreatic cancer: less than $ 1 million
Cannabis cancer: less than $ 1 million
New antibacterial compound: less than $ 1 million
Cure Aging: less than $ 25 million
It’s time to live forever: over $ 100 million
Gene therapy for x: less than $ 10 million
Cure to Diabetes: over $ 100 million
Nootropics + ALS Cognitive Enhancement: less than $ 100 million
MS treatment: unknown
Cure for Cancer: unknown
But the document was deleted long after it was tweeted by Elon Musk on Monday March 16.
Later that day, he started a week as a serial guest on Fox News opinion programming and the Fox Business Network.
He appeared on Laura Ingraham’s The Ingraham Angle on Monday 16th, a few hours after Musk tweeted that it might be worth considering. He was presented as a co-author of the “study” on the drug.
He said a “controlled study of 30 patients” had authorized patients taking hydroxychloroquine and said “we have good reason to believe that a preventive dose” will completely eliminate the virus.
Ingraham called him a “game changer,” a phrase that was used by Trump later in the week.
On Wednesday the 17th, the next morning, he appeared on Christian Outlook with Kevin McCulloch. It was made into a podcast version called “The cure for COVID-19 has been found,” and saw Rigano bragging about being tweeted by Musk.
Rigano said in the interview that he had 12 hours left before the publication of the first “controlled” study on chloroquine and said that a “team” was ready to intervene. He also said that medical personnel would take it as a preventive measure during a trial.
Rigano then appeared on Tucker Carlson tonight on Thursday, 18. He was introduced as an “adviser to Stanford University medical school”.
In his interview with Carlson, Rigano praised Trump for cutting “red tape at the FDA”.
Rigano said, “I’m here to report that this morning a well-controlled, peer-reviewed study by the world’s leading infectious disease specialist,” he said, saying he “showed a 100% cure rate against coronavirus. . ‘
Carlson said, “It is very unusual for a study of something to produce 100% results, is it remarkable or is something missing?” “
In response, Rigano compared the effect of chloroquine to a breakthrough that allows hepatitis C to be “cured” by antivirals.
“It was mathematically impossible to cure a virus and the first company that did it was a small biotechnology … in the treatment of hepatitis C,” said Rigano.
“What we are here to announce is the second cure for a virus of all time. “
The next morning, March 19, he appeared on The Glenn Beck Program, the conservative host’s syndicated show, again to boast about his demand for a “well-controlled, peer-reviewed clinical study”, with a “100% cure rate”.
When asked “do you speak to the White House”, he boasted contradictorily: “We have a direct line to them and we expect them to communicate.
“We know that President Trump received our” white paper “within 24 hours of its publication. Dr. Fauci is doing a great job and we know they will make the right decision, “he said.
Profile: Gregory Rigano used his Twitter account to promote his claims about chloroquine
Profile: Gregory Rigano is a lawyer – and boasts of being an Eagle Scout on LinkedIn
Family affair: Gregory Rigano (left) is a lawyer in his family’s law firm with his brother Nicholas (right)
Rigano then appeared on Fox Business Network’s Varney & Co later in the morning, and was again presented as an “advisor” to Stanford, which he is not.
He told Stuart Varney that Trump “has the power to immediately authorize the use of hydoxychloroquine against the coronavirus.”
Grigano claimed that “100% of the patients were cured in six days,” prompting Varney to call it a “cure.”
Varney called him three times “doctor” – which he is not, and Rigano did not correct it.
And at 11:30 a.m. that day, Rigano’s initiative won its biggest public award, when Trump used a White House briefing to tout it for the first time, claiming that its use had been “approved.”
FDA administrator backtracked at same briefing, but on Friday there was a heated back-and-forth with reporters when Trump was asked to give a “fake hope ”.
Asked by a journalist about research into the use of the drug, Fauci said: “The information you are referring to is anecdotal, it was not done in a controlled trial, so you cannot make a definitive statement to this subject. “
At this point, Trump interrupted: “I’m probably more of a fan [of chloroquine] than maybe anyone, but let’s see what’s going on.
“We understand what the doctor said, it’s 100% correct, it’s early but I saw some awesome things, we’ll find out soon, including security.
“It has been prescribed for many years to fight malaria, it is a powerful drug.”
In a Tweet on Saturday, he went further and said, “HYDROXYCHLOROQUIN & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance of being one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine …
“I hope they both (H works best with A, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents) put into service IMMEDIATELY. PEOPLE ARE DYING, MOVING QUICKLY AND GOD BLESS EVERYONE!
And on Monday, Trump tweeted another link to a video of Rigano’s interview with Carlson.
Rigano has made several references to a study done in Marseille, in the south of France, by Didier Raoult, specialist in infectious diseases at the Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire Méditerranée Infection.
But the French study touted by Rigano was not consistent with his claims.
Raoult used both hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, the antibiotic, that Rigano did not mention.
The anecdotal study found that 95% of patients showed no signs of COVID-19 after six days when they took the combination of drugs, not 100%.
Professor Gilles Pialoux, a specialist in infectious diseases at Tenon Hospital in France, told Medscape, the medical information site: “The idea is interesting, but we need large randomized controlled trials. ”
In fact, it showed that of the 26 trial participants, 20 completed it, one left the hospital before the end, one was drug intolerant, and three went from general to intensive care – and one died .
Rates of death and displacement to intensive care are higher than for normal coronavirus patients, said CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Trump’s former FDA administrator, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, told CBS Face the Nation that the trial was far too small to be useful and that it traced the presence of the virus in the upper nasal passages, not the clinical outcome .
Rigano’s involvement is surprising, as his professional experience is as a lawyer in his family’s firm, Rigano LLC, in Melville on Long Island, New York.
The 34-year-old appears in public records at the same home as his father James, 67, who runs the law firm, and his mother Dorothy, 65.
Researcher: Rigano made several references to a study carried out in Marseille, in the south of France, by Didier Raoult, specialist in infectious diseases at the Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire Méditerranée Infection.
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Skepticism: When Donald Trump spoke about chloroquine at a press briefing in the White House, Tony Fauci warned: “The information you are referring to is anecdotal, it was not released during a controlled trial, therefore, you cannot make a definitive statement on this subject. ”