Opinion

Jenny Beth Martin: Hydroxychloroquine Is Back, And It’s About Time

Using hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, it seems, is making a comeback. The question is this: Will the comeback be widespread, and will it take place soon enough to save lives?

Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert — who announced July 29 that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and has since recovered — is one of the latest prominent Americans to have contracted the virus and gotten through it successfully.

And how did he do it? He credits his doctor for treating him with a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin.

“Hydroxychloroquine helped me get through COVID-19,” he said recently, before adding that he’s “feeling better than ever.”

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“The hydroxychloroquine I was taking, taking from early on, as soon as I got home, and the Z-Pak, and I wondered, that only lasted for four or five days, and the doctor said, ‘Yeah, but that stays in your system, that’s good. That’s all you need,’” Gohmert said.

“And [I] continued taking a lot of zinc, and I’ve got to say, I had people praying for me all over the country, and, I know, I got some notes from people saying, in very unpleasant terms, they hope I just died, but they didn’t get their wish. I’m feeling better than ever, so, just very, very fortunate, but I think that hydroxychloroquine, and the zinc, and the Z-Pak, the nebulizer, those things really had to have made a difference.”

Congressman Gohmert has a doctor who recognizes the value of using hydroxychloroquine in a COVID-19 treatment regimen. Not all Americans are as lucky — the vast majority, in fact, now live in states where doctors face significant negative consequences for even trying to prescribe hydroxychloroquine to treat their patients with COVID-19.

In some cases, those doctors are members of corporate medical practices where their corporate bosses have told them not to prescribe the drug; in others, state regulatory authorities have warned physicians against prescribing the drug, or, in some cases, made it impossible to do so.

Earlier this month, Minnesota’s Democratic governor, Tim Walz, rescinded his own March executive order that effectively prohibited doctors from prescribing hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine to treat those afflicted with COVID-19.

We should not allow ourselves to believe it’s experiences like Congressman Gohmert’s that led Walz to rescind that executive order.

No, it’s not that Walz believes the drug might actually help COVID-19 patients — in fact, it’s exactly the opposite: Because Walz believes hydroxychloroquine will NOT help, he thinks there will not be a run on the drug, and, therefore, it is once again all right with him if Minnesota doctors prescribe it to their COVID-19 patients.

Regardless of Walz’s reasoning, free market health advocates are grateful for his decision.

“This is good news for COVID-19 patients. Many physicians across the nation, and various researchers around the world, have found early use of hydroxychloroquine shortens illness, reduces symptoms, and keeps patients out of the hospital and off the ventilator,” said Twila Brase, co-founder and president of the Minnesota-based Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom. “For many patients, hydroxychloroquine has been a life-saving medication.”

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Walz is not the first governor to take action to allow doctors to once again prescribe hydroxychloroquine as part of a treatment for COVID-19.

About two weeks earlier, Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine asked the Ohio Board of Pharmacy and the State Medical Board of Ohio to “revisit the issue, listen to the best medical science, and open the process up for comment and testimony from experts.”

DeWine’s request, of course, came the very same day that FDA honcho Stephen Hahn said the decision to treat COVID-19 with hydroxychloroquine is a choice that should be left between a doctor and his or her patient, without government interference.

The head of the federal government’s chief medical watchdog agency, the Food and Drug Administration, has said the decision to prescribe hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 patients should be a decision made between a doctor and his or her patient; two Midwestern governors — importantly, one a Democrat, and the other a Republican — have overturned earlier decisions to allow the drug to be prescribed in their states; and a congressman of some note who recently contracted the virus says he has beaten the illness with the drug.

Now, what can be done in the remaining 48 states?

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