The Ohio Department of Health issued a ban on the use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, but reversed that decision after GOP Gov. Mike DeWine asked for that decision to be reversed, WHIO-TV reported.
The board reversed the ban after "feedback received by the medical and patient community and at the request of Governor DeWine," according to a statement.
"The Board of Pharmacy and the State Medical Board of Ohio should revisit the issue, listen to the best medical science, and open the process up for comment and testimony from experts," DeWine said in a statement.
The health department made the decision based on the stance that hydroxychloroquine is not an effective treatment for COVID-19. The department cited the fact that the Food and Drug Administration revoked its emergency use authorization to use the anti-malarial drug against the novel coronavirus, and a July memo from the FDA highlighting some potential side effects of the drug.
The Columbus Dispatch reported:
"Basically, it's a patient safety issue," [Cameron] McNamee, [director of policy and communications at the Ohio Board of Pharmacy] said on Wednesday before DeWine's request. "We're looking at the best science to determine what's best for the patients of Ohio."
Pharmacists in Ohio found to be selling or dispensing the drug to treat COVID-19 now that it is prohibited could face disciplinary action ranging anywhere from a warning or fine to a temporary suspension of their license. But, McNamee said the action taken would depend on the situation.
"The long and short of it is, we want people to focus on what works, such as social distancing and mask use," McNamee said. "We ultimately want to make sure people are being safe and not exposing themselves to drugs that have shown not to be effective in treating COVID-19."
DeWine quickly issued a statement calling for the ban to be halted and reevaluated in light of the research that has shown the potential for HCQ to be effective against COVID-19.
"I agree with the statement from Dr. Steven Hahn, Commissioner of [the FDA], that the decision about prescribing hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 should be between a doctor and a patient," DeWine wrote on Twitter. "Therefore, I am asking the [Ohio Board of Pharmacy] to halt their new rule prohibiting the selling or dispensing of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19."
Therefore, I am asking the @OhioRxBoard to halt their new rule prohibiting the selling or dispensing of hydroxychlo… https://t.co/Ldcvfm2trf— Governor Mike DeWine (@Governor Mike DeWine)1596115832.0
At the start of the pandemic, when anecdotal evidence indicated HCQ could be effective against COVID-19, the Ohio health department stockpiled the drug just in case it turned out to be a good treatment.