On Wednesday, the Texas House Freedom Caucus authored a letter to Allison Vordenbaumen Benz, the executive director of the Texas State Board of Pharmacy (TSBP), requesting that the agency clarify that pharmacists are free to distribute hydroxychloroquine in the Lone Star State.
The eleven Republican state representatives in the caucus asserted their belief in the use of hydroxychloroquine, saying that “thousands of lives could be saved” if it was used more broadly.
“The sooner we can eradicate the complications associated with this virus, the faster we can get back to normal life,” they asserted.
Invoking concerns over hospitals and prescribers hoarding hydroxychloroquine pills, the TSBP created a rule in March barring pharmacists from distributing the drug unless “the prescription or medication order bears a written diagnosis from the prescriber consistent with the evidence for its use.”
The TSBP later clarified the rule on May 15, saying that their intent was not to inhibit its use for COVID-19 patients, but to ensure that enough was available for those who truly needed it.
“The intent of board rule 291.30 is to prevent the stockpiling of the drugs and to ensure that reasonable quantities are available for ALL patients that require therapy with the drugs, including patients with a COVID-19 diagnosis,” the TSBP said.
The Texas Freedom Caucus wants a more definitive statement from the TSBP giving a green light to the use of the drug.
“[W]e reiterate our request for you to further make clear to pharmacists that any real or imagined shortage of hydroxychloroquine has ended and that there is no ban on its use in Texas,” they wrote.
Citing medical evidence, including Yale epidemiologist Dr. Harvey Risch, the letter promotes the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine and references Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington), a member of the caucus who was sick with COVID-19 before being treated with hydroxychloroquine.
“Even our very own [Tinderholt], who tested positive for the virus last month and underwent a terrible few weeks of illness, swears by the drug’s effectiveness, having undergone a turn in health immediately after starting a treatment including hydroxychloroquine well after his symptoms had become serious,” the caucus wrote.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) cautions against the use of hydroxychloroquine “without medical supervision,” and asserts that research now shows it is ineffective for treating hospitalized coronavirus patients, the WHO concedes that “more decisive research is needed to assess its value in patients with mild disease or as a pre- or post-exposure prophylaxis in patients exposed to COVID-19.”
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Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan in Dallas. During the academic year, he coaches high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.