COLUMBUS, Ohio — As of Thursday, all terminal distributors in Ohio, including prescriber clinics, non-resident pharmacies and institutional facilities, will be prohibited from selling or dispensing hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19, according to a new rule passed by the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy.
The rule, passed on July 20, terminates all previous approvals to use the drug to treat COVID-19.
While prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine can no longer be issued to attempt to treat or prevent COVID-19, the rule does not apply to prescriptions issued as part of a documented institutional review board-approved clinical trial to test the safety and efficacy of the drug as a treatment for the virus.
Questions surrounding the drug as a treatment or prevention for COVID-19 resurfaced as President Donald Trump recently promoted it as treatment.
Public health organizations have disputed the efficacy of the drug, and early results of the drug’s usage in peer-reviewed trials have not been promising, according to the FDA. The FDA, like the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy, has banned the use of the drug to treat coronavirus outside of hospital and clinical trial settings.
In April, the FDA first put out guidance that warned against the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for COVID-19 outside of a hospital setting or a clinical trial due to possible side effects. The FDA added that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine had not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19. The FDA said that hydroxychloroquine can cause abnormal heart rhythms, and patients who also have other health issues such as heart and kidney disease are likely to be at increased risk of complications.
Despite this, Trump retweeted a video that called the drug a "cure” for the virus and his son, Donald Trump Jr., had his Twitter account suspended as a result of the video.
The White House recently began promoting a study by the Henry Ford Health System, which did indicate that the drug reduced mortality, but a number of other studies have not been able to replicate those findings. Most recently, the New England Journal of Medicine published last week a study that indicated that the drug did not improve coronavirus outcomes.
Under the new rule in Ohio, hydroxychloroquine will still be able to be prescribed for other conditions, the board said.
After the rule went into effect on Thursday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced his opposition to it and requested the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy to rescind the prohibition, stating that he believes the decision to prescribe hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 treatment should be between a doctor and a patient.