The Oklahoma attorney general’s office is seeking to return $2 million worth of unused hydroxychloroquine, the drug former President Donald J. Trump pushed as a COVID-19 treatment, according to reports.
The news was first reported by The Frontier. According to the publication, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt called for the large purchase in April and said at the time that even if the drug did not prove to be effective in COVID-19, “that money will not have gone to waste in any respect” because the drug has many other potential uses. According to Stitt, at the time of the purchase, “I was being proactive to try and protect Oklahomans.” He also compared his largely criticized purchase of 1.2 million hydroxychloroquine pills to the decision to stock up on personal protective equipment (PPE), believing it was better to err on the side of caution.
According to Oklahoma News 4, however, not a single pill was used. The office of the attorney general for the state is now attempting to return the stockpile to its original manufacturer, FFF Enterprises, Inc., a private pharmaceutical wholesaler based in California.
A spokesman for Mike Hunter, the state’s attorney general, told The Frontier that Hunter’s office and the state health department are working together “to try to figure out a solution.”
A spokeswoman for the governor told the publication, “Every decision the governor makes is with the health and lives of Oklahomans in mind, including purchasing hydroxychloroquine, securing PPE, and now distributing vaccines as quickly and efficiently as possible to combat this COVID crisis.”
While the large hydroxychloroquine purchase in Oklahoma ultimately proved to be unnecessary, the drug is certainly useful for many other indications—and was recently praised for its versatility in a review written by a group of rheumatologists. Even though it did not work out as a COVID-19 treatment, the fact that the drug can be reappropriated for additional indications is a testament to hydroxychloroquine, they noted.
However, Trump’s promotion of the drug—in particular, a video he tweeted in July—may have directly led to a surge in COVID-19 misinformation, a separate study found. The researchers concluded, “Although Twitter permanently suspended President Trump’s account on January 8, 2021, due to concerns about him inciting violence, the misinformation he generated about COVID-19 will undoubtedly persist.”
Hydroxychloroquine is used for the treatment and prevention of malaria, as well as to treat diseases including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.