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Trump's coronavirus prescription couldn't be filled in Arizona, and Ducey won't change that
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Trump's coronavirus prescription couldn't be filled in Arizona, and Ducey won't change that

From the May's Tucson-area coronavirus coverage: Cases rise, judge rules that state can keep nursing home data from public series
  • Updated

Gov. Doug Ducey

PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey said Wednesday he will not rescind his order that prevents Arizonans from using a drug in the experimental way President Trump is during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The issue arose as the president, Ducey’s fellow Republican, said Monday he had started taking hydroxychloroquine. And the White House on Wednesday confirmed that Trump’s personal physician prescribed it to him as a preventive measure.

That prescription could not be filled here in Arizona.

Ducey’s April 2 directive bars pharmacists from dispensing hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine unless they have a prescription from a doctor saying the patient has the virus. Even in that case, Ducey limits the prescription to a 14-day supply, with no refills without a new prescription.

His order also spells out that prophylactic prescriptions for the drug “are strictly prohibited unless peer-reviewed evidence citing prophylactic evidence becomes available.”

And to date the only published study involves 62 patients in China taking hydroxychloroquine where the authors said the potential of the drug in treatment “has been partially confirmed.” But they also said there is the need for large-scale clinical and basic research.

The sole exception in Ducey’s April 2 order denying prescriptions for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine is for patients taking the drug “for treatment other than COVID-19.” That includes treatment for malaria and auto-immune disorders.

Trump’s disclosure of his use of hydroxychloroquine isn’t the first time he has touted the drug. He has been mentioning it since March.

That resulted in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issuing a warning last month saying the drug poses a risk of severe heart rhythm problems. For that reason, the agency said, it should be taken only in a hospital or as part of a clinical trial.

But the presidential mentions created a rush of sorts by people trying to get the drug.

That is why Ducey limited its use “so that we’re not running into shortages for those individuals who are taking it for other reasons,” Trisa Guzman Glover, this director of boards and commissions, said in April.

On Wednesday, though, Ducey said no one is being denied anything.

“Of course, Arizonans can access needed pharmaceuticals and health care and medicine,” he said.

State Health Director Cara Christ, a physician herself, said that’s not entirely accurate.

“It can be used if a physician feels that it is necessary,” she said. And in cases of COVID-19, Christ said, the order is “not to pre-prescribe it for anybody.”

“But they can use it under certain circumstances,” she said.

The Hill reported that White House press aide Kayleigh McEnany, in explaining Trump’s decision to take the drug, linked it to legislation he signed in 2018 allowing terminally ill patients to try medications that have not been approved by the FDA.

She said the same is true for people who are “facing a fatal illness.”

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