Governor of Nevada Bans Use of Potentially Lifesaving Drug for Coronavirus

Gov. Steve Sisolak of Nevada, a Democrat, has signed an executive order banning the use of anti-malarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat people with coronavirus. The New York Post explains.

“Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak’s executive order came after President Trump touted the medication as holding promise for combating the illness. Sisolak said there was no consensus among experts or Nevada doctors that the drugs can treat people with COVID-19.”

Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine began being touted as possible effective treatments for coronavirus after a French study, according to Fox News, suggested that the anti-malaria drug had a good effect in shortening the disease in several patients.

Several organizations, including the FDA and the World Health Organization, are conducted systematic studies to verify the efficacy of the two drugs and one or the other drug in combination with other medications in treating coronavirus.

In the meantime, the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine is being prescribed in an “off-brand” fashion by several hospitals. Anecdotal evidence exists that the anti-malaria drug has saved several lives of patients who were in danger of dying from the coronavirus.

The New York Post tells the story of a man in Florida named Rio Giardinieri who, having caught the serious form of the coronavirus, was told by his doctors that there was nothing that could be done for him. At the last minute, Giardinieri persuaded an infectious disease specialist to give him some hydroxychloroquine. The following then occurred.

“After about an hour after taking the pills, Giardinieri said, it felt like his heart was beating out of his chest and, about two hours later, he had another episode where he couldn’t breathe. He says he was given Benadryl and some other drugs and that when he woke up around 4:45 a.m., it was like nothing ever happened.

He’s since had no fever or pain and can breathe again. Giardinieri said doctors believe the episodes he experienced were not a reaction to the medicine but his body fighting off the virus.”

Giardinieri ascribes the drug for saving his life. Several other people who have been given hydroxychloroquine or the drug in combination with other medications have touted the treatment to curing them of the coronavirus, including actor Daniel Dae Kim.

Since the drugs have been used for decades, not only to treat malaria but other conditions such as lupus, they are considered safe. Several hospitals and doctors are using them to treat their patients while the studies continue.

Politicians ranging from President Trump to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have supported using the drugs for compassionate use against the coronavirus.

These facts raise the question as to why Gov. Sisolak would try to ban the use of the drugs to treat coronavirus. The National Review suggests that Siolak signed the order to prevent the hoarding of the drug, a real problem, but also based on misinformation.

First, Sisolak seemed to be motivated by the instance of a Phoenix man and his wife consuming a fish tank cleaning additive called chloroquine phosphate, which is not the drug but similar to it.

The man died and his wife has been classified as being in critical condition, The problem is that both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine has to be prescribed by a doctor. All the Phoenix couple accomplished was to place themselves in contention for this year’s Darwin Award.

Sisolak may also be reacting to Trump touting the drugs as a possible cure. It may be a case of the governor overcompensating by going in the exact opposite direction.

The National Review was blunt in its assessment of Siolak’s executive order.

“Alas, unlike New Yorkers and desperate coronavirus patients elsewhere in the country, Nevadans in jeopardy of death from the disease will be unable to receive a prescription for compassionate use of hydroxychloroquine.”

The Los Vegas Review-Journal notes that as of this writing there are 321 cases of coronavirus in Nevada. So far six Nevadans have died from the disease. Siolak’s executive order, unless it is rescinded or is overturned by a court, may well cost more lives.

It certainly takes away the right of doctors and their patients to pursue whatever treatments they believe are most effective.