News & Politics

Did the Governor of Nevada Ban the Use of Trump-Touted Anti-Malaria Drugs to Treat Coronavirus Patients?

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Steve Sisolak, the Democrat governor of Nevada, has signed an emergency order barring the use of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus after Trump touted the anti-malaria drugs as a promising treatment for those afflicted by the virus.

According to Sisolak, there’s no consensus among experts or Nevada doctors that the drugs can treat people infected with the coronavirus. However small-scale studies have shown that hydroxychloroquine combined with antibiotics may help cure people with the disease. A coronavirus patient in Florida says that he was near death and had said goodbye to his family before taking the same drug and recovering quickly afterward. Hollywood actor Daniel Dae Kim says a combination of drugs, including hydroxychloroquine, likely helped him recover from the coronavirus as well. Nevertheless, Sisolak’s emergency regulation “prohibits the prescribing and dispensing [of] chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for a COVID-19 diagnosis.”

Sisolak’s response contrasts to that of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who announced during a Sunday press briefing that New York State acquired 750,000 doses of chloroquine, 70,000 doses of hydroxychloroquine, and 10,000 doses of Zithromax for clinical trials, which began this week. “The president is optimistic about these drugs and we are all optimistic that it could work,” Cuomo said.

Governor Sisolak later clarified his emergency order with a statement Wednesday morning. “This regulation DOES NOT prohibit prescription of these drugs for inpatient treatment,” he announced on Twitter. “In other words, if a doctor in a hospital or emergency room setting wants to prescribe these drugs to treat a patient diagnosed with COVID-19, he or she is still free to do so.” This directly contradicts the press release announcing the restrictions, which said the regulation prohibited the prescription of the drug to treat the virus.

“To be frank, the press release could have been more precise and included relevant information about the exception,” Sisolak’s Communications Director Ryan McInerney told PJ Media via email. “The updated tweet is accurate; the regulation does not create an absolute ban on use of these drugs to treat COVID-19. There is an explicit exception in the regulation allowing for a ‘chart order for an inpatient in an institutional setting.’ In other words, doctors in hospitals and emergency rooms can still prescribe these drugs to treat a patient diagnosed with COVID-19 if they so choose.”

“The regulation focuses on outpatient services where there has been evidence of hoarding of these drugs, which can impact those who need the drugs for other conditions AND COVID-19 patients in hospital settings where a doctor could determine that trying those drugs might be helpful,” McInerney added.

The regulation can be read in full here.

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Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis

This article has been updated to include a statement from the governor’s office.