Posted by Curt on 25 April, 2020 at 3:34 pm. 12 comments already!


On March 23, 2020, Governor Steve Sisolak of Nevada, in conjunction with the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy, signed a regulation that restricted medical doctors in the state from prescribing two medicines many healthcare professionals worldwide have turned to in their fight against COVID-19; hydroxychloroquine, and chloroquine. Now, Dr. Bruce Fong and the Nevada Osteopathic Medical Association are suing Governor Sisolak, the State of Nevada, and the Nevada State Pharmacy Board for the right to make treatment decisions on behalf of their patients, some of whom, the doctors contend, could die without access to a drug that has shown the potential to save lives.

The suit was filed on April 21st in Washoe County, and because the matter pertains to a declared state of emergency, attorney Joseph Gilbert is requesting a speedy hearing.

Gilbert, Dr. Fong, and NOMA make several contentions in the suit. Governor Sisolak formed a medical advisory team which consisted of the CMO, along with four additional medical experts. The Nevada State Board of Pharmacy then held a hearing to decide on the order, which bars doctors from prescribing (and pharmacies from filling) hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine prescriptions outside of a hospital setting. The complaint alleges that the majority of the advisory team are not licensed to practice medicine in the state, and under state regulation their role is administrative. NOMA and Gilbert argue that “by adopting the Emergency Regulations, the BOP is, in effect, both impermissibly practicing medicine and illegitimately restricting where the practice of medicine can occur.”

In speaking to UncoverDC, Dr. Fong said “There is a sacred tenet, and it is the patient doctor relationship. Through that relationship, a doctor makes an assessment about that patient’s condition by discussion with their patient, other diagnostic means, etc., and they move forward. A primary physician who has a longstanding relationship with a patient knows that patient better than any other clinician, and much better than any administrative body. So, when you have any administrative body telling you that isn’t OK- not like it’s a poison we are talking about- when that administrative body is prohibiting a physician from writing a script for a medicine that has a high probability to stop illness when used within a specific critical window, it’s frustrating. We now have the pharmaceutical board telling me that I can’t stop someone who appears to be getting worse from going in to the hospital, when there is a treatment option available that would allow me to do so, potentially saving their life.”

Attorney Joey Gilbert told UncoverDC “In essence, Governor Sisolak and the Board of Pharmacy are both practicing medicine without a license, and illegitimately restricting where the practice of medicine can happen in Nevada. Sisolak is using a declared State of Emergency in the middle of a health crisis, and stepping between a doctor and their patient, to proclaim that they know better” In addition, Gilbert said that “all of the concerns that the BOP cited when enacting the Emergency Regulation have already been addressed and resolved at the Federal level. There is no excuse for this.”

The case is personal for him, too. Immediately before the ban, both of his parents were diagnosed with COVID-19, and prescribed hydroxychloroquine as a treatment. His father went from being horribly ill to doing remarkably better within hours of his first dose of the medication. Gilbert said “I have seen this medicine work. Both my mother, and my father were extremely ill and getting worse. They were able to obtain the medicine because it was prescribed in the hours before the ban. Both of my parents have now recovered, and both credit their change in condition to hydroxychloroquine”.

On Sunday March 28th, the chief scientist at the FDA declared that chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate meet the criteria concerning safety and potential effectiveness, and that the products are authorized for the treatment of COVID-19 when administered by a Health Care Provider.

When the order was signed, Governor Sisolak cited off label usage as a concern, and also asserted there would be medicinal shortage leading to a hardship for others already taking the medicine; mainly patients with Lupus and autoimmune disease. The suit establishes that using a drug “off label” is not only widespread in the medical community, its legal. NOMA and Gilbert also detail that there is an adequate supply of the medicine, and that there is more than enough available in the national stockpile to accommodate Nevada. At  the time of writing, Nevada is the only state barring their doctors from prescribing hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to their patients.

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