Sherif Z. Zaafran, M.D., President, Texas Medical Board
Dear Dr. Zaafran,
Thank you for clarifying that “the Texas Medical Board has never prohibited the use of hydroxychloroquine [HCQ] alone, or in conjunction with other drugs, for the treatment of COVID-19.”
It is important for physicians to have confidence that they can treat patients—during a pandemic or otherwise—without fearing that a difference in medical opinion will trigger an investigation that jeopardizes their ability to practice.
However, we respectfully ask you to reconsider your additional comments that prescribing of HCQ for COVID-19 is “alternative therapy” and that “physicians must ensure they comply with Board Rule 200.”
The prescribing of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 patients meets the definition of “conventional medicine” as provided in Rule 200.2. Off label prescribing of FDA-approved medications occurs in 20% to 50% of all prescriptions and has never been considered to be “alternative medicine.”
In addition, treatment for COVID-19 that includes hydroxychloroquine meets the definition of conventional medicine as it is “based upon medical training, experience and review of the peer reviewed scientific literature.”
The body of peer reviewed research, based on clinical experience, in support of HCQ continues to grow: https://bit.ly/hcqearly. Using Chloroquine-based drugs for anti-viral treatments is also supported in medical training literature. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine states that chloroquine may protect cells from viral infection, for example.
Rule 200.2 also states that conventional treatments are those that are generally accepted methods of routine practice. Many Texas physicians, including doctors at one of the state’s largest and most respected health systems, are using HCQ treatments to keep COVID-19 patients out of the hospital, off ventilators, and to protect health care workers from severe disease. Please find enclosed an article from leading physicians at Baylor explaining their safe at-home treatment protocols that include HCQ.
The bottom line is that deeming treatment with HCQ to be “alternative medicine” risks limiting the availability of safe and potentially life saving treatment during a pandemic.
Please consider revising your statement to clarify this important matter for the benefit of Texas patients.
Jane M. Orient, M.D., Executive Director