Ohio Pharmacy Board Reverses Ban on Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times. He has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education.
July 30, 2020Updated: July 30, 2020

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine called on the Ohio Board of Pharmacy to reverse its new ban on hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19 infections, and the Board withdrew the proposed rule.

DeWine, a Republican, said in a statement that he believes, as does Dr. Steven Hahn, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), that the matter of prescribing the drug is an individual health issue best settled between a doctor and a patient.

“Therefore, I am asking the @OhioRxBoard to halt their new rule prohibiting the selling or dispensing of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19,” the governor said on Twitter.

“The Ohio Board of Pharmacy and @ohiomedboard should revisit the issue, listen to the best medical science, and open the process up for comment and testimony from experts,” DeWine added.

Cameron McNamee, Director of Policy and Communications at the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, responded to an inquiry by The Epoch Times by providing the following statement:

“As a result of the feedback received by the medical and patient community and at the request of Governor DeWine, the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy has withdrawn proposed rule 4729:5-5-21 of the Administrative Code,” the statement said, with reference to the rule (pdf).

“Therefore, prohibitions on the prescribing of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in Ohio for the treatment of COVID-19 will not take effect at this time. This will allow the Board to reexamine the issue with the assistance of the State Medical Board of Ohio, clinical experts, and other stakeholders to determine appropriate next steps,” the statement added.

Epoch Times Photo
A pharmacy tech pours out pills of hydroxychloroquine at Rock Canyon Pharmacy in Provo, Utah, on May 20, 2020. (George Frey/AFP via Getty Images)

DeWine’s request followed the Board’s issuance of the new regulations on Wednesday, now on hold, prohibiting clinics and pharmacies from dispensing or selling the drug. The action also voided previous approvals of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for both treatment and prevention of COVID-19.

Trump said at a press conference Tuesday that the drug’s safety has been borne out by a long history of its use in treating malaria, lupus, and other conditions. He added that while the science around its use in treating COVID-19 is still unsettled, many people, including doctors, believe it is successful. But the issue has become distorted by politics, Trump added.

“Many doctors think it is extremely successful—the hydroxychloroquine—coupled with the zinc and perhaps the azithromycin. But many doctors think it’s extremely good, and some people don’t. Some people—I think it’s become very political,” the president said.

The Food and Drug Administration revoked its emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine in June, which let doctors prescribe the drug even though it was untested.

Studies into the use of hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19 continue around the world, with researchers looking at factors like timing, dosage, and its use in combination with other drugs.

Indian researchers found the drug helps prevent infection from the CCP virus and doctors in Michigan claimed the drug lowered the death rate for COVID-19 patients.

Critics of its use point to a growing body of research strongly suggesting it is not effective in treating COVID-19. A recent randomized trial on the use of the drug in outpatients with early, mild COVID-19 found that hydroxychloroquine “did not substantially reduce symptom severity.”

“The overwhelming, prevailing clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective in coronavirus disease,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC News on Tuesday.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said he plans on starting a course of hydroxychloroquine after testing positive for COVID-19.

“My doctor and I are all in,” Gohmert said Wednesday on Fox News’s “Hannity,” participating remotely as he remains under quarantine.

The primary use of hydroxychloroquine is as an anti-malarial also used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Note: This article has been updated to reflect the statement from the Ohio Board of Pharmacy indicating a postponement of the new rule.