Michigan reverses course, requests anti-malarial drugs from feds to treat coronavirus

The move comes after the state last week wrote a letter warning against improperly prescribing or dispensing the drugs

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, photo from 2018 when Whitmer was a gubernatorial candidate
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, photo from 2018 when Whitmer was a gubernatorial candidate
(Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Updated: April 2, 2020 - 5:38pm

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The state of Michigan is trying to obtain hydroxychloroquine sulfate and chloroquine phosphate – malaria drugs showing early promise in treating coronavirus patients – after issuing a letter last week warning about improperly prescribing or dispensing the medications.

The state wants the drugs from the Strategic National Stockpile. The request follows the Department of Health and Human Services announcement that it accepted donations of the two drugs into the stockpile and the Food and Drug Administration's Emergency Use Authorization permitting those donations to be utilized to treat people with COVID-19.

HHS notes that the donated medicines can be used to treat hospitalized teenagers and adults with coronavirus, "as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible."

"Based on the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization to allow the use of hydroxychloroquine sulfate and chloroquine phosphate products donated to the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) for certain patients with COVID-19, we are pursuing a request for hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine from SNS,” Lynn Sutfin, Michigan HHS spokesperson, said in an email according to the Washington Times.

Last week, a letter directed to "Licensed Prescribers and Dispensers" said that "The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has received multiple allegations of Michigan physicians inappropriately prescribing hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine to themselves, family, friends, and/or coworkers without a legitimate medical purpose."

"Again, these are drugs that have not been proven scientifically or medically to treat COVID-19," the letter said.

Michigan's about-face follows a similar move by Nevada, which first expressed concern about using the drugs to treat coronavirus then embraced the FDA's recommendation.

While formal clinical trials have not yet been completed on the two drugs' efficacy in treating coronavirus, small studies and anecdotal reports from doctors have shown some promise, leading to the FDA decision.

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