COLUMBUS, Ohio — A pharmacy group reversed its decision to disallow the prescription of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, in COVID-19 cases.
The Ohio Board of Pharmacy rescinded the ban only hours after announcing it, likely due in part to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's public plea for officials to allow doctors to continue using the unproven, politically controversial drug to treat the novel coronavirus.
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.
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) July 30, 2020
"(Rescinding the rule) 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," according to a notice posted on the board's website.
The scuttled rule stated that no prescription for chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine may be dispensed by a pharmacist or sold by a licensed retailer unless the prescription bears a written diagnosis code from the prescriber or a statement indicating its medical purpose. The rule would not have applied to prescriptions issued as part of a clinical trial.
Although scientific studies have not conclusively found hydroxychloroquine — normally prescribed to treat malaria, lupus and arthritis — has a significant or any beneficial effect on COVID-19 patients, the drug has high-profile evangelists that include President Donald Trump and hosts on Fox News.
"I happen to think it works," Trump said Monday.
He and his son, Donald Trump Jr., had each retweeted a video boasting of the drug's efficacy from Dr. Stella Immanuel, a physician who said she had cured hundreds of patients with hydroxychloroquine and who has also attributed various health problems to sexual intercourse with demons.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the White House's highest-profile medical advisers, told MSNBC on Wednesday that scientific data did not support claims that hydroxychloroquine was effective.
“You look at the scientific data and the evidence," he said. "And the scientific data ... on trials that are valid, that were randomized and controlled in the proper way, all of those trials show consistently that hydroxychloroquine is not effective in the treatment of coronavirus disease or COVID-19.”