President Trump on Tuesday defended his use of hydroxychloroquine in an attempt potentially to ward off the coronavirus, saying the unproven COVID-19 drug "gives you an additional level of safety."

Trump, who revealed Monday that he's taking the anti-malaria drug to prevent coronavirus, much to the shock of the medical community, bashed a scientific study warning of the dangers of hydroxychloroquine as a personal assault on him.

"It was a Trump enemy statement," Trump said on Capitol Hill Tuesday after lunching with GOP senators.


He didn't specify the name of the study but said the participants were in "bad shape" and "almost dead."

Trump appeared to refer to a study of veterans hospitalized with COVID-19 that found those taking hydroxychloroquine had a higher rate of death than those who did not.

He also hit back at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who said Trump shouldn't take the unproven drug especially given his age and weight, which she referred to as "morbidly obese." At the start of the news conference, Trump declined to respond to Pelosi's remarks, saying she's a "waste of time." But by the end of the less than seven-minute press gaggle, Trump punched back.

"Pelosi is a sick woman. She's got a lot of problems -- a lot of mental problems," Trump said.

As for hydroxychloroquine, Trump said individuals will have to make up their own minds about taking the drug, but he argued "it doesn't hurt people."

"It's been out in the market for 60 years or 65 years for malaria, lupus and other things. I think it gives you an additional level of safety," Trump said.

Following Trump's announcement Monday, many doctors urged Americans that their best sources for medical information are medical experts, not the president.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cautioned against using hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial "due to risk of heart rhythm problems."

"You have to have a discussion with your doctor to decide if it is best for you," Dr. Janette Nesheiwat, a Fox News medical contributor, warned. "It is not going to be good for everyone but it may be beneficial and potentially life-saving for others."

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at the Vanderbilt Medical Center, went a step further. "I certainly would not recommend that people in the U.S. ask their physicians to prescribe hydroxychloroquine for the prevention of COVID," Schaffner told The Wall Street Journal. "Its use is entirely speculative."

Dr. Rob Davidson, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare, advised his followers to ignore the president.

"There is no evidence of benefit and there is evidence of harm," Davidson tweeted. "Trump is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands. Let's not add to that number."


The White House said Trump wanted to join the weekly GOP lunch to discuss the coronavirus response.

Trump wants to "thank senators for their work during this unprecedented crisis, discuss the progress safely opening up America again, and explore the path to economic prosperity for all Americans," White House spokesman Judd Deere said.

The House on Friday passed a massive $3 trillion coronavirus relief package that would send nearly $1 trillion in relief to state and local governments, dole out another round of $1,200 direct payments to most Americans, boost food assistance, extend enhanced unemployment benefits through January 2021 and establish hazard pay for essential workers.

But the White House threatened to veto the legislation, and the Senate won't take up the bill because of the price tag and because of extras they've panned as a liberal wishlist.

Republican congressional leaders say they are in no rush to pass a fifth coronavirus relief bill. And if that time comes, they'd want a much narrower bill with liability protections for businesses against coronavirus lawsuits.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are "100 percent" in agreement on needing this provision so businesses can reopen without fear of trial lawyers. Democrats, however, are more focused on passing new worker safety regulations so employees have proper protective gear and safer conditions as they return to their jobs.

Trump said he had a good meeting with GOP senators discussing the coronavirus response and the 2020 election and their focus is getting the economy back up and running, which he dubbed the "transition to greatness."

Fox News' Bradford Betz contributed to this report.