Doctors Group Asks Arizona’s Ducey to Rescind Hydroxychloroquine Orders

May 2, 2020 Updated: May 3, 2020

Hydroxychloroquine has helped over 90 percent of COVID-19 patients improve, according to a doctors group.

“We believe that there is clear and convincing evidence of benefit both pre-exposure and post-exposure,” Association of American Physicians and Surgeons officials Dr. Michael Robb and Dr. Jane Orient wrote in a letter to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

Robb and Orient cited observational data through April 20 from multiple countries about 2,333 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine, some in combination with zinc or azithromycin. Of those, 91.6 percent improved clinically.

Most of the data (pdf) deals with hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, but one study indicated it has efficacy as a prophylactic, the doctors said. Most of the data is anecdotal, or not obtained through official studies. In some cases, the name of the doctor is listed but no other information is included.

Doug Ducey talks to reporters after meeting
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey talks to reporters after meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House on April 3, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The doctors urged Ducey, a Republican, to rescind his executive orders forbidding prescriptions for the prevention of COVID-19.

“Based on this evidence, we request that you rescind your executive orders impeding the use of CQ and HCQ and further order that administrative agencies not impose any requirements on the prescription of CQ, HCQ, azithromycin, or other drugs intended to treat or prevent coronavirus illness that do not apply equally to all approved medications that may be used off-label for any purpose,” they wrote.

Ducey’s order (pdf) states, “Prophylactic prescriptions for the prevention of COVID-19 are strictly prohibited unless peer-reviewed evidence citing prophylactic effectiveness becomes available.”

It doesn’t apply to patients taking hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for other uses.

The drugs have been used against malaria and lupus for decades.

Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine received emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration for use against COVID-19, though the agency recently warned about possible side effects relating to the heart.

One study published May 1 found patients taking hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin had greater QT prolongation, which can lead to rapid, chaotic heartbeats. Another study also found an increase in heart rhythm in patients who received the two drugs together. Both were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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