The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) condemns the continued hoarding by the federal government of hydroxychloroquine, which it has kept in a stockpile while expensive new medications for Covid remain mostly unavailable.
The first 10 million doses of the new Pfizer medication Paxlovid ordered by the federal government will not be available until June. Only 250,000 courses of treatment will be accessible by the end of January, which is too little, too late.
Meanwhile, since early last year the federal government has hoarded more than 60 million doses of hydroxychloroquine donated by generous pharmaceutical companies trying to help stem the Covid-19 pandemic. Rather than release these to the public as intended by the donors, the federal government has wrongly withheld this medication, instead promoting vaccination as the only answer. AAPS unsuccessfully attempted to get government to release the stockpile in a lawsuit filed in June 2020.
“Why has the government been touting a medication that is mostly unavailable, while withholding from the public a medication that was donated for use against Covid?” asks Jane Orient, M.D., Executive Director of AAPS. “No one is helped by promoting an expensive new treatment that patients cannot obtain,” Dr. Orient added.
The State of New York received Paxlovid doses for treating only about 20,000 people. Its Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett observed that that is insufficient.
Merck’s pill for Covid, molnupiravir, will be accessible sooner but reportedly might cause birth defects, and thus is not first among the government’s recommendations. “Why is the government recommending a new medication that may be unsafe for many?” Dr. Orient asks. “Hydroxychloroquine, in contrast, was FDA approved for safety in 1955 and has been safely used by hundreds of millions of people.”
In addition, the government recently began to ration access to monoclonal antibodies. More than 2 years into the pandemic, hospitals report that they can treat many fewer patients with antibodies now compared with at the height of the pandemic last year.
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943. Its motto is omnia pro aegroto (everything for the patient).