Governor wants attorneys to look into large purchase of antimalarial drugs used to possibly treat COVID-19
Apr 24, 2020, 6:50 PM
(FILE: Gov. Gary Herbert speaking at a daily COVID-19 briefing, April 24, 2020. Credit: Steve Griffin, pool image)
UTAH STATE CAPITOL – Did the state waste hundreds of thousands of dollars buying vials of antimalarial drugs some people are using to lessen the severity of COVID-19? Governor Gary Herbert is asking the Utah Attorney General’s Office to look into the controversial purchase.
Hydroxychloroquine has been a hot topic ever since President Trump mentioned it as an option to possibly treat the effects of coronavirus. Since then, states all over the country have purchased more than 30 million doses of it.
On March 31, The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget reportedly purchased a large amount of it, and Governor Herbert says it happened without his knowledge.
He says, “The GOMB approved a purchase of 20 thousand units of this drug as a potential treatment option for COVID-19 from Meds in Motion at the cost of about $800 thousand.”
The governor says other state agencies were also planning to make large bulk purchases of the drug.
“I also understand that negotiations started at that time for additional supplies of this medicine by our Department of Health, at the same time,” Herbert says.
Friday, the FDA warned patients against taking the drug outside of a hospital or a clinical trial setting. They say early two dozen patients in one study died after taking the drug daily, and others had irregular heartbeats. Recently, the Department of Veterans Affairs released a study showing the drug had dangerous effects on patients, however, Herbert says that study was refuted by VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.
Herbert says, “In fact, he said this was not a clinical study. It was a group observation of those who were in the hospital that were elderly and really were, kind of, in their last time of life, anyway.”
Also, he says there are many cases of anecdotal evidence from patients who took the medication, and it worked very well.
Either way, the scheduled purchase of more hydroxychloroquine has been called off, and the AG’s Office is being called in to see whether the state can get their money back for the first one, since it hadn’t received the drug. Herbert also wants to probe how the contract was formed in the first place.
However, he believes whoever bought the drug did so in good faith and didn’t want the state to lack the medicine if it was needed.
“I think they were trying to find a way to alleviate suffering and to find, maybe, hope to help people who had COVID-19 to recover,” he says
The governor says they also want to learn if the medication was mixed with zinc, which would make it useless for lupus patients who might need it.
How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus
COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:
- Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
- Don’t touch your face.
- Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
- If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
- Get a flu shot.
Resources for more information:
State of Utah: https://coronavirus.utah.gov/
Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707