The rule came under scrutiny by some doctors and Texans who saw it as an unprecedented interference in the doctor-patient relationship.
The State Board of Pharmacy clarified in May that the intent of the rule was to prevent stockpiling of the drug so that it was available for “ALL patients that require therapy with the drugs, including patients with a COVID-19 diagnosis.”
It further clarified that requiring a diagnosis on the prescription was not a violation of HIPAA laws.
Recently more doctors in Texas have been speaking out about the success they have seen in treating patients with a combination of hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, and zinc.
Dr. Stella Immanuel operates an urgent care facility in the Houston area. She is originally from the African country of Cameroon, and attended medical school at the University of Calabar in Nigeria. There she became familiar with hydroxychloroquine as a malaria treatment. She says she has successfully treated over 350 patients of all ages and with all kinds of underlying health conditions and that none of them have died.
“We need to treat patients early,” Immanuel said in a town hall held by Texas Senator Bob Hall last week. “COVID has a treatment. COVID is not a death sentence.”
One example was a patient who was 7 ½ months pregnant who came in barely able to breathe. Immanuel treated her with hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, and zinc along with an inhaled steroid in a nebulizer. She said the patient was much improved in three days.
According to Immanuel, seven of her patients ended up in the hospital because they did not receive the treatment early in their COVID-19 illness, but all of them recovered.
She also said that she and other medical providers in her practice are using hydroxychloroquine as a prophylaxis, or preventative measure. They wear surgical masks when treating patients, she added, and none of them have contracted the coronavirus.
Immanuel explained a study she found from the National Institutes of Health in 2005 that talked about the benefits of chloroquine in treating SARS coronavirus infections.
Its benefits are two-fold: it stops viral replication and decreases viral uptake, Immanuel said of the study’s findings.
Immanuel is currently participating in three studies about hydroxychloroquine studying the efficacy of the treatment, the cardiac side effects, and the effectiveness when used as a prophylactic.
“Studies do take time, but patients are dying. We are not going to stop taking care of patients while we wait on studies,” Immanuel emphasized.
Immanuel gained notoriety at a press conference this week held in conjunction with America’s Frontline Doctors Summit in Washington, D.C. where doctors addressed COVID-19 and the importance of opening schools.
She called previous studies that said hydroxychloroquine is ineffective “fake science” because they were giving the wrong dosage of the medicine or not using it early in the treatment.
“I want them to show me how it doesn’t work. How is going to work for 350 patients for me and they are all alive and then somebody says it doesn’t work?”
The Texas Medical Association, an advocacy group for physicians, recommends against the use of the hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for the treatment of COVID-19 outside of clinical trials.
It cites the Food and Drug Administration in saying that there are presently no approved treatments for COVID-19. It also does not recommend the use of hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic.
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Kim Roberts is a regional reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.