State

Hydroxychloroquine Use Needs Clarification, GOP State Senator Tells Texas Medical Board

The Texas Medical Board (TMB) has been unclear about the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 and medical doctors need more guidance on when it is appropriate to use the drug, according to a Republican state senator in a letter to the TMB on Monday.

Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) contended that there is a disquieting lack of clarity around the use of hydroxychloroquine.

“Earlier this year, we corresponded regarding the Texas Medical Board’s position on the ability of Texas physicians to use hydroxychloroquine to treat patients with COVID-19,” Hall said.

“Unfortunately, there are still some physicians in our state who feel that the direction that has been given to them is unclear.”

Hall raised several issues concerning the board’s posture toward hydroxychloroquine, requesting evidence for the TMB’s assertion that the drug is an “alternative therapy.” He pressed the board for more details on the process for designating hydroxychloroquine as conventional medicine.

The senator highlighted the fact that hydroxychloroquine has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for 65 years, and that there is nothing out of line about doctors applying their professional knowledge and using medications off-label.

Suggesting a double standard, Hall asked the TMB whether they apply similar language to medications other than hydroxychloroquine when they are used off-label.

“Does the Board take the position that all FDA-approved medicines prescribed off-label are defined as ‘complementary and alternative’ until specific FDA approval is given, or does this position only apply to [hydroxychloroquine] used as a treatment for COVID-19?” Hall asked.

He listed several other medications and asked whether they were also considered alternative therapies when used to treat the coronavirus.

The TMB has been accused of stigmatizing doctors who use hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 symptoms. The board has denied claims that they are targeting doctors, and at least one physician who was reported to the TMB was later cleared of all wrongdoing.

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