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Ohio Pharmacy Board Backs Down On Banning Hydroxychloroquine For COVID-19 Treatment

A pharmacist holds a bottle of the drug hydroxychloroquine in Oakland, California
Ben Margot
A pharmacist holds a bottle of the drug hydroxychloroquine in Oakland, California in this April 6, 2020 file photo.

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy has reversed course on banning the use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, after pushback from Gov. Mike DeWine.

"While, to my knowledge they followed the law, it really did not provide enough opportunity for people to comment," DeWine said at a press conference Thursday. "And what they should have done I believe is have a full hearing on this, full opportunity, and really sought out additional medical advice in regard to this."

The board's move was slated to take effect Thursday. President Trump has baselessly touted the drug, which is typically used to treat conditions like lupus and malaria, as a way to possibly prevent or cure coronavirus.

Studies have shown the drug does not appear to be effective against COVID-19 and can have serious side effects, including heart problems.

The pharmacy board’s new rule would have replaced a previous rule issued on March 22, which authorized pharmacists to prescribe 14-day supplies of the anti-malarial drugs to patients with lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

However, in a statement Thursday morning, Gov. Mike DeWine asked the pharmacy board to halt the rule from taking effect. Citing a comment from U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner Steven Hahn, DeWine argued "the decision about prescribing hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 should be between a doctor and a patient."

A few hours later, the pharmacy board announced it had reversed its decision.

DeWine claims that as governor, he does "not have a position" on the use of this particular drug, but called the process "fundamentally flawed." He asked the state pharmacy board and medical board to re-examine the issue and solicit public and medical expert testimony.

According to the CDC's website, there are no drugs or other therapies approved by the FDA to treat COVID-19.

The FDA revoked emergency permission for hydroxychloroquine to be used as a COVID-19 treatment in June, saying the drug did not show signs of decreasing the likelihood of death or speeding recovery from the virus.

Ohio currently has a stockpile of more than 2 million hydroxychloroquine pills, which it bought for over $600,000. Hydroxychloroquine typically has a shelf life of up to 24 months.

Gabe Rosenberg joined WOSU in October 2016. As digital news editor, Gabe reports breaking news and edits all content for the WOSU website, as well as manages the station's social media accounts.