When coronavirus first made its debut last year, a new substance made its way as a potential COVID-19 treatment.
Phoenix Biotechnology, a small firm based in San Antonio, has focused on oleandrin, a sugar-containing compound extracted from the toxic Oleander plant, to determine if it has the capabilities to cure any medical conditions. The Oleander plant is poisonous in high doses and has been known to cause a series of side effects including nausea, vomiting, irregular heartbeat, and in serious cases, death.
Scientists found that oleandrin could kill cancer cells in lab dishes, however when tested on patients, the drug was not effective in extending one’s lifespan, as reported by the Dallas Morning News.
When COVID-19 hit, the firm began researching its capabilities against the virus.
As Dallas Morning News found, J.P. Bryan, an early investor in Phoenix, contacted the University of Texas Medical Branch President to discuss testing the compound. UTMB began conducting its own research on monkey cells by Scott Weaver, “a top-ranking scientist at Galveston National Laboratory”.
As the research progressed, the results were better than expected: Oleandrin-treated monkey cells were found to have fewer virus cells than untreated cells.
Dr. Ben Carson, brought on by MyPillow executive Mike Lindell, was immediately interested in the compound.
Meanwhile, Phoenix Biotech. blew past the next step in research, testing on animal and human cells, and instead elected to begin testing on people.
Dr. William Ball distributed the drug to a number of staff members and patients at a senior living home in an uncontrolled experiment. Ball claimed the results were “exceptional”.
Recruiting Jeffery Hildebrand, the owner of the STX Beef meatpacking plant, and Dr. Kimberly Dunn, Carson and Sharp began organizing the testing of oleandrin – with Hildebrand’s charity funding the testing.
Chancellor Sharp directed Dr. Dunn to a senior living home – Parc at Traditions – and testing began shortly after.
With the research and testing in the works, Phoenix sought the FDA’s approval for oleandrin as a dietary supplement – which “requires less testing than a drug approval” – submitting Dunn’s results with the agency.
The FDA then rejected the application to market oleandrin as a dietary supplement and Phoenix’s request to test the compound as a drug, according to Dallas Morning News.
The compound is now marketed as a homeopathic medicine, a treatment type not reviewed by the FDA.