COLUMBUS, Ohio — On the same day the rule went into effect, the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy has withdrawn the rule that prohibited distributors from selling or dispensing hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19.
The board stated the decision to withdraw the rule was a result of feedback received by the medical and patient community and at the request of Gov. Mike DeWine, who announced his opposition to the rule 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.
With the board’s decision, the prohibitions on the prescribing of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in Ohio for the treatment of COVID-19 will no longer be in effect.
The board said it will reexamine the issue with the assistance of the State Medical Board of Ohio, clinical experts and other stakeholders to determine the next steps.
Before it was withdrawn, the rule only prohibited prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine that were issued to attempt to treat or prevent COVID-19, but did not apply to prescriptions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, or to treat other illnesses.
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.
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.