State Rep. Jeff Yaroch, of Richmond, on Monday led a bipartisan conference call including the chairs of the House Appropriations subcommittee and state regulators with the intent of eliminating confusion over distribution of a drug that could be used to treat COVID-19.
A March 24 letter sent from LARA to licensed prescribers and dispensers addressed the possible usage of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat symptoms of COVID-19, which has steadily impacted Michigan in greater numbers over the past several days.
LARA’s letter touched on hoarding of the medication as well as possible administrative action against the licenses of physicians who prescribe it. Pharmacists were also provided with a similar disclaimer and health care providers are now tasked with stringent reporting responsibilities regarding the drugs, such as documenting physicians who prescribe them.
“When you read this letter, I believe some people may interpret that doctors and pharmacists would be wading into dangerous waters administering what is potentially life-saving medication,” said Yaroch, who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee devoted to LARA and the Department of Insurance and Financial Services. “Legislators I’ve spoken with have gotten a lot of feedback across the state on this issue, where people read it and think they wouldn’t have access to this medication if they felt it was a medical necessity. This is not the message we should be sending to patients or professionals in the medical field, and so I think it’s worth looking into clarifying this directive.”
Yaroch specifically pointed to the Right to Try Act, which was signed into state law in 2014 and permits patients to have access to eligible investigational drugs if they are otherwise unable to participate in a clinical trial.
“Time is of the essence, and when you’re dealing with a pandemic potentially overwhelming our health care system in our state, we need to have non-partisan discussion to support the plan to protect our citizens,” Yaroch said. “The way this letter is written could cause confusion and put a medical professional in a position where they must potentially choose between their livelihood and administering care. We have encouraged LARA to clearly communicate directives to physicians that the state supports the FDA guidelines for the use of these potentially life-saving drugs. I want to reassure citizens that Legislators are following up on concerns and working with our Governor to protect our citizens. We will get through this.”