By Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4) – A Denver family physician has been prescribing a controversial medication to his patients, sick with coronavirus, and believes it is yielding positive results. Dr. Constantine Tsamasfyros, who has been a primary care doctor in Denver for nearly 50 years, told CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass he has prescribed a combination of hydroxychloroquine (also known as Plaquenil) and an antibiotic called azithromycin to about a dozen patients over the last few weeks.

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass interviews Dr. Constantine Tsamasfyros. (credit: CBS)

“They all did well. They seemed to reverse their symptoms in a day or two,” said Tsamasfyros, who said he “absolutely” believed the medication was working.

“If they’re drowning, you either pull them out of the water or at least throw them a rope to come out,” he said while explaining his decision to prescribe the medication.

Although hydroxychloroquine has been promoted by President Donald Trump, who called it a “game changer,” other medical experts are far more cautious, warning against its potentially deadly side effects and limited research on its effectiveness against COVID-19.

The medication has been used for years to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. But in March, a French researcher in Marseilles, Dr. Didier Raoult, claimed he had successfully treated COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine.

He claimed 40 coronavirus patients were treated with hydroxychloroquine, and more than half had positive results. President Trump called that potentially “one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine.”

However Trump’s top infectious disease advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said there was only “anecdotal evidence” that the drugs might work.

(credit: CBS)

Other researchers and doctors have expressed skepticism over the methodology of the French study noting a lack of controls and checks and balances. The drug can also have significant side effects and can cause fatal heart problems.

Tsamasfyros said he began prescribing it to patients with coronavirus symptoms three to four weeks ago, since there was nothing else available.

“On an outpatient basis there is really nothing to offer our patients,” he said. ”Until we have something documented or better this is a fallback and we should not be depriving our patients. You certainly don’t want to deprive a patient that might be drowning in an inflamed lung situation of any kind of help or assistance.”

Tsamasfyros, known to his patients as “Dr. Sam,” said he knew what he was doing was highly controversial and he was aware of the flaws in recent studies. But he said the medications made sense to him on a scientific level and through his “common sense.”

He told CBS4 he advises patients of the potential side effects.

Dr. Comilla Sasson, a Denver area emergency doctor, said “Uncontrolled, unblinded ‘trials’ are not research or proof of therapeutic effectiveness. We have to stop the madness,” she wrote. “We are taking this drug away from patients where there is a proven benefit.”

(credit: CBS)

She was referring to lupus patients and other patients who rely on hydroxychloroquine/plaquenil, but are now having trouble finding it as other people worried about coronavirus have been stockpiling the medication.

Tsamasfyros told CBS4 he had four other doctors ask him to write prescriptions for them for the medication, as they feared they might contract coronavirus.

He said he was concerned he too might contract the virus through his medical practice, so obtained doses of it for himself, his wife and son.

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”But on the front line I could come down with it, and at my age especially and I need to have it available to me if that happens.”

Asked if he planned to continue prescribing it to patients exhibiting signs of coronavirus, Tsamasfyros said, ”absolutely.”

Brian Maass

Comments (10)
  1. jproxu says:

    YES YES YES ZINC ZINC ZINC!!! So surprised that that is left out of this report!

  2. Mark VH Warnick Jr. says:


  3. Face it, the liberal media are absolutely DESPERATE for this Trump endorsed treatment to not be what in fact all the evidence to date shows it to be. Despite now 1000’s of cases where Chinese Virus cases were successfully treated they keep up with the same tired old and now laughable excuses to keep from admitting the obvious.

    Trump has won yet again!

  4. John Medina says:

    Controversial? Only because uninformed media types like you make it controversial. There is nothing controversial about this drug. I have been taking it for years as an anti-malarial prophylactic when I travel to malarial hotspots (which is frequently). No problems, no side-effects.

  5. howardc64 says:

    Nothing controversial. Its massive used by front line docs worldwide treating Covid-19 now as its the only weapon they have. Drugs been around 70 years, frequently used, well studied side effects and low risk profile. Only people think its controversial are journalists and few non Covid-19 front line scientists and doctors aiding the political agenda.

  6. HDTV Guys says:

    Tsamasfyros Constantine MD – (303) 322-2005 – Family practice Denver, Colorado 4500 E 9th Ave #220, Denver, CO 80220

  7. Jack says:

    CBS lies every day. The French sample was 80, now up to 120.

  8. Ken Crittenden says:

    Hydroxychoroquine is a zinc ionophore. It needs sufficient zinc to work. citations provided.

    1. 40 mg daily should be plenty (of zinc) — that is supposed to relate to one mechanism by which hydroxychloroquine may combat SARS-Co-V2 (by shutting down viral replicase inside infected cells), but I understood that it was supposed to impede viral entry into the cell by altering local pH too. Just elevating core body temperature may help the immune system fight COVID-19 and be an important tool for those who have been diagnosed and are monitoring their symptoms. Dr. Seheult mentions quercetin as a zinc ionophore, but the research he cites showed that epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG, found in green tea extract) was a more potent one — this was work done in cell culture, not in vivo. Monolaurin and other small-molecule substances used as food supplements or even food preservatives such as BHT may disrupt the lipid coat of SARS-Co-V2 or prevent viral fusion.

    2. stevenlafl says:

      Anecdotally, high-dose Zinc Sulfate and Ergocalciferol along with antibiotic helped to prevent all symptoms when someone I live with was sick.

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