New Ohio Board of Pharmacy Rule Prohibits Use of Hydroxychloroquine to Treat COVID-19

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has asked the board to revisit its decision on the controversial anti-malarial drug

click to enlarge New Ohio Board of Pharmacy Rule Prohibits Use of Hydroxychloroquine to Treat COVID-19
Photo: James Yarema

Starting today, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy has instituted a new rule that will effectively prohibit the use of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine in the treatment or prevention of COVID-19.

Hydroxychloroquine is a controversial anti-malarial drug that has been repeatedly touted by President Donald Trump as a potential "game-changer" in fighting the coronavirus. 

According to the board's requirements: 

(A) No prescription for chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine may be dispensed by a pharmacist or sold at retail by a licensed terminal distributor of dangerous drugs, including prescriptions for patients residing in Ohio dispensed or sold at retail by nonresident terminal distributors of dangerous drugs as defined in rule 4729:5-8-01 of the Administrative Code, unless the prescription bears a written diagnosis code from the prescriber or a statement indicating its veterinary medical purpose.

(B) Except as provided in paragraph (C) of this rule, prescriptions issued for chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for prophylactic use related to COVID-19 or for the treatment of COVID19 are strictly prohibited unless otherwise approved by the board's executive director in consultation with the board president, at which time a resolution shall issue. Upon the effective date of this rule, all previous approvals for the use of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine shall be deemed void and must be approved using the process outlined in this paragraph.

(C) The prohibition in paragraph (B) of this rule does not apply to prescriptions issued as part of a documented institutional review board-approved clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the drugs to treat COVID-19. Prescriptions must include documentation that the patient is enrolled in a clinical trial. 

You can read the full Board of Pharmacy guidelines and FAQS at pharmacy.ohio.gov.

Today, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has asked the board to revisit its decision.

DeWine tweeted, "I agree with the statement from Dr. Steven Hahn, Commissioner of @US_FDA, that the decision about prescribing hydroxychloroquine to treat#COVID19 should be 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 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."


President Donald Trump has repeatedly pushed hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus cure, claiming that the mainstream media and scientists are suppressing information about the drug for "political reasons (me!)". However, a number high-profile studies of the drug to treat COVID-19 were abruptly halted after patients were found to be more likely to suffer cardiac side effects. The FDA revoked its emergency use authorization of the drug to treat COVID-19 in June.

In July, Detroit's Henry Ford Health System, which was helming one of the first large-scale studies of the drug and COVID-19, found that it lowered the death rate in patients. The study analyzed 2,541 COVID-19 patients and found 13% of those treated with hydroxychloroquine died, while 26% of those who did not receive the drug died. Officials released the results in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.

But, around the same time, officials at the The World Health Organization (WHO) announced they had halted all hydroxychloroquine trials after results showed the drug did not reduce mortality rates.

Though Trump claimed the Henry Ford study vindicated him, critics accused the health system of skewing the results by carefully selecting who received the treatment. Randomized, double-blind trials are considered the "gold standard" for scientific studies.

The results of Henry Ford Health System's double-blind study of the drug as a preventive measure have not yet been released.

(Read more about it from our sister paper, the Detroit Metro Times.)

Trump — and Madonna — both also recently got heat (and flagged for spreading misinformation on social media) for sharing a viral video of Houston doctor Stella Immanuel, who claims that the drug hydroxychloroquine is a proven cure for COVID-19.


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