April 7, 2020, was the date this article was posted in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Texas has shipped over 550 bottles of hydroxychloroquine to nearly 60 hospitals and pharmacies. Nine hospitals and pharmacies in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have asked the state for the drug, whose effectiveness in treating the novel coronavirus has yet to be determined through robust clinical trials.
Hospital systems in the DFW area confirmed Tuesday that they have already prescribed hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients. The Texas Department of State Health Services has been distributing bottles of the drug since March 30, according to agency data that lists shipments through Monday.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently authorized the emergency use of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients who cannot participate in a clinical trial. However the drug does pose risks, and while clinical trials are underway, its effectiveness in treating COVID-19 is unclear.
President Donald Trump has said when combined with the antibiotic azithromycin, the drug could be “one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine,” and pushed for its immediate use. Officials in the Trump administration, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have said additional studies are still necessary.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that patients in a Texas City nursing home who had tested positive for COVID-19 were being treated with the drug. The Texas Tribune first reported Monday night that DSHS had distributed the drug from a supply of donated tablets from Amneal Pharmaceuticals. Agency spokesman Chris Van Deusen confirmed that in an interview Tuesday.
Diana Brodeur, a spokeswoman for John Peter Smith Hospital, confirmed in an email Tuesday afternoon that the hospital recently received a shipment of the drug, that it’s available in the hospital pharmacy and that it has been prescribed to COVID-19 patients.
“Physicians at JPS have prescribed hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, though it is not appropriate for all COVID patients. It is only one of many drugs that may be prescribed for COVID-19 patients, depending on their clinical severity,” Brodeur wrote.